W.B.A Preview - Away, 12th April
After the midweek shambles are West Brom really going to be that worried about the visit of Watford this Saturday? Highly unlikely, but then, strange things happen in football and this is going to have to be one of them.
The Baggies moved back to the summit of the league during the week with a 3-1 in away at Bloomfield Road. Having lead the division earlier in the season then fallen away it was a welcome return for Tony Mowbray's men who were looking increasingly unreliable at the back. A 4-3 win at home to Colchester was impressive in the attacking third, but it was in the defensive third that West Brom's problems apparently lay. That's an odd statement especially when you consider that over the Summer Tony Mowbray re-vamped the entire of their backline with several multi-million pound signings. Leon Barnett arrived from cash-strapped Luton Town for £2.5million with veteran Chris Perry heading in the other direction on a free. Carl Hoefkens arrived for 3/4's of a million from Stoke City to fill the right-back void, but he's hardly been missed when you consider the form of the Potters. Pele, not the good one, signed for the midlanders having watched his Southampton contract expire whilst Bostjan Cesar joined on-loan from French giants Marseille.
If Mowbray was busy signing defenders then he can't have left the side of his phone during the transfer periods as no less than 6 forwards arrived most of them on-loan. In fairness, it was hardly a surprise, when you've just lost Diomansy Kamara and Nathan Ellington, you need re-inforcements.
The most successful forward this season, in the division, as well as as the Hawthorns has been [Super] Kevin Phillips. Thirty-four, but only showing his age through his experience and poachers knack, the former Hornet, Villan and Mackem has enjoyed something of an Indian Summer, or is it a second-coming following and unproductive spell at Villa Park. Whichever terminology you disguise it with though, the veteran's done well. At his stage, with his career earnings, it would have been easy to retire and look back on a fantastic career, or even just lose your appetite for the game, like fellow Baggie, John Hartson. Well, not for Kevin Phillips, scurge of Championship defenders, the 8-cap England forward has managed 24 goals to data.
Great, every team needs a twenty goal a-season man, but do they really need two more in double-figures, I mean to say; that's just greedy? Not in Tony Mowbray's books, and it seems to have worked for him too. Ishmael Miller was captured from Manchester City on a season-long loan and just six months in, Jeremy Peace shelled out just one million to make his signature stick. Since then, Miller has been unfortunate in the form of Roman Bednar. Another seasons loan, Bednar was signed from Scottish outfit Hearts, and when you look at what's going on there, you understand why one of their best players has been let go. Two million will exchange hands in the Summer allowing the Czech to sign permanantly for the Albion.
Of course, great strikers score goals, but even the best need the support of their midfield in West Brom have the best in the division. There is no competition when it comes to the Baggies midfield. Boasting the guile, experience, technical ability and 'style' of Jonathan Greening, Chris Brunt, Filipe Texeira, Robert Koren and Zoltan Gera, it's little wonder that West Brom have scored as many goals as they have!
Now it's up to Watford to make sure they score no more!
Kiely; Hoefkens, Pele, Clement, Robinson; Gera, Koren, Greening, Brunt; Bednar and Phillips.
Lee; Doyley, Shittu, Bromby, Sadler; Smith, Eustace (c), Williamson, McAnuff; Ellington and Kabba.