At the halfway stage, West Brom were in touching distance of 4th place and an unexpected challenge for a place in European competition. Unfortunately for them, their form tailed off, and they had to play Man Utd twice in the last 19 games having already played QPR twice in the first 19!
It’s a bit unfair to compare WBA’s record to 4th place. After all, the 12pt gap between Liverpool in 7th and WBA in 8th at the end of the season was the biggest difference between consecutive places in the league table and underlines the gulf in quality between the top 7 and the rest of the league. As far as the rest were concerned, West Brom were champions!
West Brom scored reasonably well but they were a little frail in defence reaching a 5-game average of around 2 goals conceded per game on a few occasions through the year. But they may have fallen into the same end of season slumber that Swansea succumbed to – since they only managed 5 points from the last 8 games and were incredibly well positioned at a time when the teams below them were scrabbling about like headless chickens to avoid relegation!
WBA were older than the league average, a bit taller and had about 1 player more in their 11 who was over 1.82m tall than the average team.
WBA fielded a very healthy proportion of players in the top 3 groups of playing time, suggesting that injuries weren’t a major problem for them last season and the team was relatively settled. I can see that a few players: Mulumbu, Morrison and Ridgewell, may have been injury worries for parts of the season but not so dramatically that they couldn’t provide a good contribution to the team.
Performance score-wise they were lacking a bit in most departments. TPOEM doesn’t fancy West Brom that much it seems. The fact that they defied the stats suggests that they were well organised/efficient and perhaps benefited from a bit of luck along the way (not wishing to take anything away from the team)! Clarke probably deserves the credit for that.
- 3rd lowest number of total ground duels (2611)
- Fewest total interceptions (376)
- 3rd lowest number of dribbles attempted (402)
- =2nd highest number of red cards (4)
- 5th lowest total final third passes attempted (4537)
Gera, Morrison and Mulumbu were the pick of the midfield – Clarke will be hoping that Gera can make a swift recovery in time for the start of the new season. McAuley had another excellent season, as did Billy Jones in defence.
Frankly, because the player scores are generally on the low side, the whole team deserves credit for its organisation and discipline. However, Lukaku’s 17 league goals were a real achievement and worthy of his status as player of the season. The number 1 objective this summer must be to find a suitable replacement.