Already Positives with Pardew

West Bromwich Albion’s new Boss Alan Pardew took charge of his first game on Saturday December 2nd against his former club Crystal Palace. The match also saw Pardew face off against former West Bromwich Albion and England manager Roy Hodgson.

The matchup proved to be an evenly matched contest with neither side managing many clear cut chances, with Palace and Albion front men Christian Benteke and Jay Rodriguez having the best chances to score for their respective sides.

Despite the match running out a 0-0 draw there were many positives to take as Pardew showed Albion fans what to expect from the team under his tutelage. Pardew surprised fans by deciding to play three strikers in the team – Salomon Rondon, Jay Rodriguez and Hal Robson-Kanu. This had a positive affect for the team going forward as the Baggies managed a total of 20 shots; highlighting the attacking style of play that Pardew will bring to the side much unlike the defensive approach to matches taken by his predecessor Tony Pulis. Full backs Kieran Gibbs and Allan Nyom also managed to contribute the team’s new found attacking mentality by bombarding forward and launching crosses into the Crystal Palace penalty area.

During his first game in charge Pardew also demonstrated his ability to adapt the team during a game. Pardew changed the team’s formation to a more structured 4-4-2 as opposed to the 4-3-3 which saw Albion on the back foot towards the end of the first half. This tactical change definitely paid off as the second half was dominated by Albion and on another day the Baggies may have had 3 points to show for their performance.

Teams:

Albion (4-3-3): Foster; Nyom, Hegazi, Evans (c), Gibbs; Livermore, Barry (Yacob 30), Field; Robson-Kanu (McClean 72), Rondon, Rodriguez (Burke 90). Unused subs: Myhill, McAuley, Melbourne, Krychowiak.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Speroni; Ward, Kelly, Sakho (c), Schlupp; Townsend (Sako 87), Loftus-Cheek, Milivojevic, McArthur; Zaha, Benteke. Unused subs: Van Aanholt, Fosu-Mensah, Puncheon, Riedewald.

West Brom will now travel to Swansea on December 9th, followed by a trip to Anfield to face Liverpool on December 13th before returning to The Hawthorns on Sunday December 17th to challenge 2nd placed Manchester United in a game that will be televised live on Sky Sports.

Pardew will definitely be hoping to build on the team’s performance against Crystal Palace throughout December and Pardew’s task of turning around the team’s poor form may prove easier with the return of key players from injury.

Fan favourite Matt Phillips and club legend Chris Brunt are both expected to make their returns from injury for the side’s trip to Swansea. Prior to Christmas the Baggies may also have attacking midfielders James Morrison and Nacer Chadli back to full fitness, Morrison and Chadli both have the ability to contribute goals to the team which will be needed as the Baggies attempt to avoid relegation from the Premier League.

In other injury news Craig Dawson is making good progress following his knee injury and the injury sustained to Gareth Barry in the Crystal Palace fixture is not thought to be serious.

The team haven’t just improved in the attacking department either as Captain Jonny Evans is showing that he is back to his best for the Baggies as he helped ensure that West Brom gathered their first clean in 11 games against Crystal Palace. Evans’s good run of form is pivotal for the side and fans will be hoping that the centre-back remains at the club following the January transfer window amid renewed interest from Manchester City and Arsenal who are both vying for the Northern Irishman’s signature.

19-year-old midfielder Sam Field is also proving to be a revelation for the club as the academy product continues to impress for the first team. Fans are hoping that Field – a lifelong Albion fan will maintain his position in the team’s starting lineup. Field has showcased his versatility after turning in good performances in both central midfield and on the left wing for the club.

West Brom currently sit 17th placed in the Premier League table, but the table is still very tight at this stage of the season and fans will be hoping that the team’s 14 games without a win in all competitions will soon come to an end. Things are definitely looking up for West Brom with Alan Pardew at the helm.

Jaikuran Randhawa

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