West Bromwich Albion 0 - Stoke City 1

Date: Monday 20th January 2020 Live on Sky Sports
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
WBA:
3.9
Johnstone 5.3, Furlong 5.1, Hegazi 4.5, Bartley 5.1, Townsend 4.1 (Brunt, 75 5.3), Sawyers 4.2, Livermore 4.9, Phillips 5.3, Pereira 5.5, Diangana (Zohore, 4 3.8), Robson-Kanu 6.0 (Austin, 75 4.5)
Unused subs: Bond, Ajayi, Krovinovic, Edwards
Manager: Slaven Bilic 3.8
Stoke:
4.9
Butland, Smith, Batth, Lindsay, Martins Indi, Allen, Clucas, Ince (Collins, 87), Powell (Cousins, 72), McClean, Campbell (Gregory, 25)
Unused subs: Davies, Vokes, Ngoy, Thompson
Scorers: Campbell (9)
Referee: Tim Robinson 4.1
Attendance: 23,199   Home Fans 4.6   Away Fans 5.3
Submit your ratings for this game by clicking here: Ratings submitted so far: 17

Mark Koppel:

Backward Baggies 0 v Stoke 1

I'm afraid it has to be said, but the chickens are coming home to roost for this Squad and this Manager. For example, we failed to get promoted last season even with Gayle, JRod, Dawson, and Harvey Barnes. And now the replacements to all these 4 players are inferior.

And then to Bilic's selection decisions.

  • We have not played well since he started tinkering with the Team from Wigan onwards.
  • Tonight Diangana gets injured, and instead of replacing him a wide player, he puts on the £8million Donkey.
  • We are losing at home to Stoke (repeat, Stoke) and with only 15 minutes left puts Brunt and Austin on.

I remember when it started to go wrong at West Ham under him, it went from rack to ruin. Is history repeating itself?

Off the pitch, despite it being the 21st Jan tomorrow, and not having won or played well for 7 games, no new players.

Player Ratings:

  • Johnstone 5 - Weak hands AGAIN for their goal.
  • Furlong 4 - Backwards and sideways all day long. One of the players at fault for their goal.
  • Townsend 4 - Its a good job he did not have to also do any defending today.
  • Bartley 4 - All over the shop again. How he kept his place after going missing for both Charlton goals must mean Bilic was watching a different game from the sidelines.
  • Hegazi 6 - I know he should have cleared for their goal, but his passing accuracy and other defending was solid. Bilic needs to keep him in with Ajayi.
  • Philips 6 - Should be, and can be, our most dangerous player. But starts too many games ok and then fades.
  • Livermore 4 - It was his dreadful pass that led to the goal. Tried hard to get us back in the game but only 1 in 20 of his shots ever hits the target. That 1 in 20 was against Hull.
  • Sawyers 5 - Has lost his confidence. Slow on the ball, slow moving forward with the ball. Only confident when passing backwards.
  • Diangana - Surprisingly brittle back for a young man.
  • Robson-Kanu 7 - Probably our most skilful and enterprising player tonight. And then Bilic takes him off???
  • Pereira 6 - Also not the player he was. Tried to create things but nothing really came off. Topped it off with 2 sky high shots into Row Z and Row ZZ.

Subs:

  • Zahore 3 - The worse waste of money since Brown No Idea and Olly 'Run Forrest' Burke.
  • Austin 5- A proven goalscorer at all levels. But Bilic gives him just 15 minutes???
  • Brunt 6 - If Townsend is a better option than Brunt, then I must be watching a different game. But Bilic gives him just 15 minutes???

Bilic - We sacked Big Dave after a run not as bad as this. But Bilic somehow gets mythical status. But maybe those roosting chickens are telling another story now!

Brendan Clegg:

Another disappointing result that continues our worrying slump. Stoke came for the point and got all 3.

I was optimistic having seen the starting lineup other than I thought it was harsh leaving Semi out. I thought he'd earned the right to play through a bit of a wobble and with the cup game next week Hegazi would get the chance to play anyway. Semi's pace is also crucial to us playing a high line.

We got off to the worst possible start with Diagana getting injured after a couple of minutes. Bilic opted to introduce Zohore which I wasn't the decision I'd have made. In my opinion, a straight swap for Edwards to keep everyone else in the positions we'd planned, to the original game plan and keeping pace and the ability to beat a man on the pitch was important.

I felt the change did cause us problems for 15 minutes because Phillips, HRK and Pereira were all playing in the congested centre, getting in the way of each other and offering no width.

We conceded a cheap goal in that period following a poor pass from Livermore, Hegazi not doing enough to clear it and without Semi's recovery pace it was squared to Campbell who struck it home, SJ unlucky in nearly keeping it out.

After a little bit we settled down and began to dominate the match but Stoke kept us in places where we couldn't hurt them. HRK was probably our best player for the rest of the second half but all of his good work was either too deep with no pass to release as he took others out of the game, or he was fouled very quickly before he could get away.

We created some half chances but the shooting (and heading) quality wasn't there.

In the second half it was much of the same. We penned Stoke in and dominated but although there was plenty of effort, we couldn't move the ball quickly enough to create any space and lacked the ability to beat a man or get to the byline on the left. We were largely reduced to set pieces and efforts from outside of the box but I can't recall Butland having to make a save. Stoke looked more likely to score on the counter and had the best chance.

I thought the subs weren't the best again. I love Brunt, I'm sure everyone loves Brunt, but I felt it was a waste of a sub getting him on to hit a few decent corners when we already had Phillips and Pereira on the pitch. I get that the plan was to load the box, with Austin on too, and try and get him crossing it but I'd rather have given Edwards a 20 minute burst. I'd probably have taken Zohore off too. In the end we resorted to hit and hope rubbish.

So all in all, we seem to be deviating away too much from the overall players, tactics and approach that took us to the top of the league almost out of desperation to change the results. Gibbs and Diagana are a loss and Ferguson's omission isn't helping. If the powers that be are serious about going up they need to pull out all of the stops to get at least one, preferably two players in who can directly impact the first team. Looking back at our January window history, the odds on that don't look great.

  • SJ - 6 Not a lot to do apart from a routine save.
  • Furlong - 6 McClean did a a job tracking him so he couldn't get forward but I thought he did a job defensively.
  • Hegazi - 6 Should've done better for the goal and a few sloppy passes.
  • Bartley - 6 Pressed quite high and saw lots of the ball but Stoke were happy to let him have it.
  • Townsend - 5 I thought he was physically overwhelmed and when he did get forward his first touch wasn't good enough. Kept plugging away.
  • Sawyers - 6 I've been a critic but he did his best to get onto the ball, there were just no options ahead of him. I felt he could've trusted Hegazi more to carry it forward instead of standing 5 yards square of him all the time.
  • Livermore - 6 Couldn't fault the effort but can;t go past people and shooting boots weren't on. Kept going.
  • Phillips - 6 In and out, couldn't get into the game enough and most of his dribbles were diagonally infield before we went backwards. He did work though.
  • Pereira - 6 A couple of great moments but when he did wriggle free again there was nothing to hit. Is double marked every game but our spare players don't have the quality to capitalise.
  • HRK - 7 Looked like our best creative option but his best work was done deep on the left wing. Showed good feet, strength and linkup play but we know he can't sprint more than 20 yards.
  • Dianga - A big loss again. Was it sensible to start him? That's him and Gibbs now - are we rushing them back too soon?
  • Zohore - 6 Ran about, tried to put himself about but his touch is poor and he's not great in the air for a big guy - didn't make the most of a couple of half-chance headers and seemed to have given up/tired by 70 minutes.
  • Brunt - 6 Showed Strength, awareness and crisp passing. Might be a better option than Townsend... but his introduction here didn't work.
  • Austin - 5 One good flick out wide but, seriously, he moves like an old man. Nothing dropped for him.

Baggieboy8:

Just a few thoughts to add to what Mark and Brendan have said, so not a report as such.

Although our form has been poor for the last 2 months I was quite optimistic before the kick off!

However, even though this was what I would call a big game against local rivals we didn't seem up for it and allowed Stoke to dictate play especially in the first half. We are still, even after last night's result still top of the league but played like a lower mid-table side short of form and ideas.

Stoke were helped by Hegazi's fluffed clearance for their goal (should have been put into row Z) but equally we didn't show quality on the ball, only in brief flashes and so there were very few clear cut Albion chances even though we had nearly 70% possession according to the stats on BBC.

A few questions for Slaven though

  1. Why play Hegazi, he looks short of confidence and prefers the long ball option which doesn't fit with the general style of play?
  2. On form Robson-Kanu is the best forward at the moment yet he was subbed, why?
  3. Was Diangana (I do think he is a class player) fit, really?
  4. What has happened to the team spirit in the camp from 8 weeks ago? Up until November, even though we always seemed to concede early it seemed that we would always 'score more than you can'. That has disappeared, hopefully we can find it again.
  5. Can you find a way to help Pereira to find space, or find his best position?
  6. Why do we nearly always have 2 people trying to take the same corner? A waste of a forward option around the box?
  7. Why do we start so slowly at the Hawthorns, and invariably gift the opposition the first goal, why? why?
  8. If and it is if we were to get promoted, we would need quite a few player changes to 'survive'. Do you agree?

Just to give credit where it is due, Jack Butland had a good game in goal for Stoke. Not exceptional but commanded his box and caught crosses well. Something for our keeper to learn from, I know Jack is bigger.

Thoughts on the above welcome, Come on You Baggies.

Ancient Baggie:

My first visit for a little while and I wished I hadn't bothered. I thought I was watching a Pulis team. I wouldn't be surprised if Zohore isn't suffering from frostbite having stood around for 87 minutes in those temperatures. We couldn't put three meaningful passes together so many players just didn't turn up and the lack of pace is shocking.

I think Bilic must take some of the blame the - team selection tactics and substitutions for me all lacked clarity. Zohore for Diangana really? No pace in the middle of the back we all know how that ends and though I agreed with Brunt instead of Townsend (should have happened weeks ago) I can't believe at that point we didn't go to a back three and get some width with wingbacks.

The atmosphere was lacking but in fairness the team did nothing to get the fans on their feet. If we can't get new players in during January then I think we should get some youngsters with energy in. We've had a 9 day break before this game and I think the players must have spent most of them in the pub.