West Bromwich Albion 3 - Swansea City 0
What a very strange game!
Swansea are one of the better teams we've seen this year - fluid, mobile, kept the ball well, Dyer the best player on the pitch, tactically good and dominant in possession.
However, they conceded 3 really cheap goals and ours was protected by Sam Johstone in his best game for us by miles and what felt like something else - I don't think they'd have scored if they were still playing now.
Shan changed the system to what looked like a 4-1-4-1 to me, with Brunt centrally in the deep lying position, JRod on the left and Murphy on the right. I think it was the right to do but the change of system wasn't without issue as Brunt played quite deeply while the rest of the midfield 4 tried to push high. Swansea were good enough to play through it many times to give them runners either side of Brunt and they could have been a couple of goals up.
We took the lead via Brunt's set piece quite fortunately but continued to ride our luck. It looked to me like at some point Livermore dropped back next to Brunt to make us more a 4-2-3-1 which gave us a bit more protection but really exposed Murphy's lack of effort and running, JRod's lack of pace and Harper, whilst showing great strength and running at times, couldn't get a hold of the game or position overall.
It was a relief that we took to playing percentages more from the back so at least avoid gifting chances, and we actually caught Swansea with what was often our own downfall by pressing high when they played it out form the back.
Second half we got another simple goal to settle our nerves and then I thought we managed the game quite well given the injuries we had to manage.
Bartley dealt with everything in a no-nonsense way when he replaced Dawson, HRK for Murphy was absolutely the right sub at the right time to give us someone to hold onto the ball and get us up the pitch and I though Mears was an absolute credit to himself the way he slotted in and belied his years by matching Swansea's pacey attackers leg-for-leg and mopping up nicely.
Our 3rd goal came largely because Livermore can't control a ball and his dangling swipe led to a bobbling about before Jrod finished nicely.
Shan was refreshingly honest in his post match interview - 3-0 flattered us but I thought he got everything right and he should be very proud. I hope we go back to having some continuity by keeping him in and around things as he clearly addressed the 2 major things that have been our downfall - overplaying at the back and the system. I sincerely wish Moore had done the same months ago.
In my opinion the game demonstrated that the league isn't any great shakes at all and had we gone for a variant of the 4-2-3-1 system as our Plan A this season we would probably be in the top 2 by this stage, almost irrespective of the personnel. Our best hope now appears to be to continue momentum in order to take it into the play-offs.
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