West Bromwich Albion 2 - Sunderland 1
Albion recorded their third double of the season with a win over Sunderland at home, but they were made to hang on for the result. Steve Clarke opted for a 4-4-2 formation with both Romelu Lukaku and Shane Long up front, Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu in the centre of midfield and the reintegrated Peter Odemwingie on the bench.
Lukaku gave Albion the lead after half an hour from the penalty spot following a handball by Craig Gardner on Liam Ridgewell's cross; Lukaku had already been unlucky not to have scored after referee Roger East blew for a free kick when he could easily have played advantage and allowed the goal.
With fifteen minutes left, Lukaku's bad luck with the disallowed goal was balanced out when a weak backpass from John O'Shea was cleared by Adam Mignolet but cannoned off the Belgian striker and into the net.
Stephane Sessegnon made for a nervy end to the match when he pulled one back three minutes later when Jonas Olsson's clearance fell for him to finish from the edge of the area. Odemwingie was given a brief runout, perhaps as much to test the water as anything else - and the verdict: warm ...ish, with a powerful early shot going just wide of the post helping to get the crowd onside.
The win lifts Albion back above Liverpool and into seventh spot with the "magic" 40 points in the bag and eleven games still to play.
We reached 'SAFETY' with a decent performance and a deserved win, but once again it could have ended in tears after some lax late defending. There are 11 games to go and the chance to reach perhaps 55 points, a tally which seemed modest back in December, but some thoughts must now be given to next season and beyond.
Lukaku, who must be one of the hardest players to mark in the league, would look great in an Albion shirt for another year, but how can Chelsea afford to loan a guy like this out? If he can score 12 goals on a team with limited talent/resources, and often coming on as sub, what could he do with Chelsea?
Peter O will be gone. Olsson ditto. Dorrans has been told he can go. Gera may be done. Rosenberg and El Ghanassey are busts. Fortune is probably done. Reid is injury prone. This leaves some huge holes, especially up front. Let's hope Garlick has Ashworths eye for bargain talent.
On a totally unrelated matter, my son-in-law (who is a Man City supporter, poor lad), daughter, grandson and I had booked flights to the UK in April, in part to attend the Man City - West Brom game at the Etihad. The game was originally scheduled for Saturday April 13th, so we got return flights to Canada on Monday April 15th. We were less than pleased therefore to find that the insensitive whores who control Premier league scheduling recently switched the game to Monday April 15th for TV, thus robbing my family of the chance of watching a top Premier team live (the Baggies).
But I digress.
This will be our first Premier league campaign where the last third of the season can be enjoyed without the stress of fighting for survival. Boing Boing!!
PS I know most people will pick Lukaku as MoTM, but Mulumbu was massive also.
An important game for several reasons:
Well we can't complain can we? - 40 points with 11 matches left and if you look at the table and look at who is currently above us and what resources they have (not to mention the debt!) we should be very pleased with our team and our club.
Great result after a tremendous result at Anfield and a pretty good performance too. Not sure about playing Mozza out wide but maybe it will take him a few games to get used to it - he looked most dangerous when he drifted back in behind Lukaku and Long. But isn't it great to have Mulumbu and Yacob back? What a difference they make and they give our defenders and strikers much more confidence too. Their work rate is fantastic, their partnership special. In general I am not a big Brunt fan but he is getting back to his best now he is out wide again - well done!
Lukaku was outstanding today and Long helped him to get more space - the ball he took from Foster and then strolled round O'Shea was ridiculous! Let's see if we can have him next season as well but to be frank I can't see Chelsea wanting him to continue his apprentiship with us - he's proved he is ready now! There is already work going on behind the scenes to get a new striker for next season. Odemwingie should go and frankly good riddance, if/when Lukaku goes we are very, very, light up front in terms of putting the ball in the net. Rosenberg has shown nothing and MAF works hard and can hold the ball up but is not a prolific goal scorer.
Anyway I'm not going to complain! Very pleased with the boys and the added bonus of Wolves and Villa in relegation spots - doesn't get much better does it?
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