West Bromwich Albion 0 - Birmingham City 0
||Saturday 20th June 2020
||Sky Bet Championship
||Johnstone , Furlong , Ajayi , Hegazi , Gibbs , Sawyers , Livermore (Krovinovic, 85 ), Phillips (Edwards, 60 ), Pereira (Zohore, 85 ), Robinson (Diangana, 60 ), Robson-Kanu (Austin, 70 )|
Unused subs: Bond, Bartley, Harper, O'Shea
Manager: Slaven Bilic
||Camp, Colin, Dean, Clarke-Salter, Harding, Crowley (Boyd-Munce, 91), Kieftenbeld, Bellingham (Bela, 70), Gardner, Jutkiewicz, Hogan
Unused subs: Trueman, Bajrami, Burke, Stirk, Concannon, Reid, Gordon
How do you even begin to summarise how strange this all is, work out what happens next and justify the point of it all? I can’t, but I was really looking forward to watching us play - iFollow failure anxiety willing - so I’ll just stick to that.
Going into the game with so many options I genuinely couldn’t choose our best team so didn’t envy Slav there - and when his 11 was announced it all looked justified to me.
We were dominant throughout the match and we looked in really good physical condition. At times we played some nice snappy stuff. Were we that good or did Blues make us look better with their game plan? Maybe a bit of both.
Our big let down was decision making in the final third. We overplayed it too much too often. This has been a problem for us going back before lockdown.
It goes for set plays too - we had some dangerous free kicks and won plenty of corners but seemed to always want to change them to 3 pass moves. We don’t need to do this - we have the quality. Again, it’s been a criticism most of the season.
Time and again we breached Blues’ back line but then didn’t cross quickly enough or worked the ball all the way back. The 4/28 successful crosses stat summed us up.
And despite our total dominance I don’t recall their keeper making a save.
I don’t think the subs really helped us - they seemed more like rolls of the dice to use the squad than tactical changes. I know the rules have changed and we have a lot of very good players to keep happy but in the end we changed half a team and it doesn’t help your flow. I’d like to have seen Robinson up front for 15 minutes before he was taken off.
In the end it was a good run out with plenty of positives. Friday’s trip to Brentford will be a totally different challenge but might suit us better.
- SJ - 6 Generally ok but one real flap at a cross.
- Furlong - 6 Put a lot of effort in but needs to cross it early. I still think he’s our best option here.
- Ajayi - 7 Always seemed to be in control.
- Hegazi - 7 Some dicey early moments but hit 2 or 3 of the game’s outstanding passes. Is better when he plays regularly so hopefully he has a run now.
- Gibbs - 7 Everything was top quality apart from the final ball and he had a few opportunities.
- Sawyers - 8 I thought it was his best game in many matches. Totally controlled the midfield and did his job in terms of finding our front 4 with quick forward passes.
- Livermore - 6 Struggles in this sort of match when the opposition are so deep. Loads of running and snapping and you need to start him, but gets a little lost with too much possession.
- Phillips - 6 Was a threat and had a couple of nearly moments. Is pretty good as a goal threat from low crosses across the box but we didn’t hit enough from decent opportunities.
- Pereira - 7 Tried to make things happen and some great moments. Needs to just shoot from free kicks. Would like him to up the tempo slightly too.
- Robinson- 6 Another who had nearly moments, would like to see him up front.
- HRK - 6 Thought generally he did well but we needed a bit more desire to follow up passes into him.
- Austin - 5 Didn’t get the supply and when he starts dropping deep to get the ball it’s all pointless.
- Edwards - 5 I rate him, I think when it clicks he’ll be a hell of a player but his decision making was terrible. Frustrating that the coaches or senior players didn’t tell him to get to the byline and hammer it across more.
- Diangana- 6 Good to see him back but he’s far more effective off the left.
- Krovi- 6 Nice and tidy but couldn’t open them up.
- Zohore - 5 Did he get a touch?