On Sunday evening at The Hawthorns, West Bromwich Albion stuffed Burnley 4-0 with a fantastic performance that sees them leap up the table into 10th place. Goals from Saido Berahino, Graham Dorrens and Craig Dawson ensured Alan Irvine’s men continued their excellent recent form, whereas Burnley persisted in being toothless in attack as they’ve now gone five Premier League games without scoring a single goal. Interestingly, the only league goal they’ve managed so far was against league-leaders Chelsea back in mid-August when Scott Arfield grabbed a 14th minute goal in their 3-1 loss. Plain and simple, if the Clarets don’t become more proactive in their offensive efforts, heavy defeats like this one could become the norm as the campaign progresses. Looking at the way they set themselves up at the weekend, they allowed the Baggies to come at them, and they sat back far too much, allowing themselves to be pushed very deep into their own half. Lukas Jutkiewicz was fairly anonymous throughout the game, but it wasn’t through lack of trying – he just didn’t get enough service and he was forced to come much deeper than desired to receive the ball. Sean Dyche needs to examine his current tactics and come up with something a little less passive if they’re to avoid further embarassments against the likes of Everton and Arsenal in the coming few weeks.
Proving that their recent triumph over Mauricio Pochettino’s men wasn’t simply a fluke, West Brom had clearly been working hard in the build-up to Sunday’s clash. All the signs were there that they had done their homework as they persisted in putting the away side under the cosh with countless periods of pressure as they became camped outside their 18-yard box. In hindsight, although the first goal took 30 minutes to arrive, it was obvious they had the upper hand in this tie from the get-go with some fine, free-flowing moves. Limiting any threats Dyche’s players constructed out wide, they restricted the one big strength that Burnley possess and they hit them where they knew their weaknesses were. It was a premeditated, tactical masterstroke. And with no service for Jutkiewicz and limited threat from the middle of the park, Burnley started to become over-run, out-thought and panicky – making mistakes that they would never have done in the Championship last season. With two back-to-back wins now for Albion, they’ll look to keep their positive patch going when they travel to Anfield to face Liverpool next weekend. That’ll be a big test, but they’re certainly in the right frame of mind to cause an upset.
Relegation candidates at the start of the season, although their troubles have far from vanished, they’ve shown the necessary mettle on a number of occasion already this season that will stand them in good stead between now and May. Having narrowly avoided the drop last time around, scraping together only 36 points, they already have eight points on the board now and should reach the magical 40 with comfort well before the season comes to a close. With an in-tune attack complementing a back-line that boasts the experience of Joleon Lescott and others, they have all the right tools to hold their own against the mid-table clubs and should, as they did against Burnley, over-power the newly-promoted sides as well as current strugglers Newcastle United and Stoke City along the way. In short, this season, Baggies fans will enjoy their football a lot more.
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