West Bromwich Albion 0 - Fulham 0

Date: Tuesday 14th July 2020 Live on Sky SportsBehind Closed Doors
Competition: Sky Bet Championship
WBA:
6.5
Johnstone 6.1, O'Shea 7.1, Ajayi 6.6, Hegazi 8.0, Townsend 6.1, Sawyers 5.9, Livermore 6.3, Diangana 6.3 (Robinson, 85 4.6), Pereira 7.1 (Krovinovic, 93 5.5), Grosicki 5.2 (Phillips, 46 5.6), Austin 5.8 (Robson-Kanu, 65 5.5)
Unused subs: Bond, Furlong, Bartley, Brunt, Harper
Manager: Slaven Bilic 6.3
Fulham:
5.9
Rodák, Odoi, Bryan, Hector, Ream (Christie, 89), Onomah (Johansen, 77), Knockaert, Reed, Reid, Cavaleiro (Kebano, 43), Mitrovic
Unused subs: Bettinelli, Mawson, McDonald, Arter, Le Marchand, Sessegnon
Referee: Geoff Eltringham 5.1
Attendance: 0

Brendan Clegg:

I was remarkably zen before the game and thought Bilic picked the right 11 but from the opening few minutes I became a ball of anxiety.

The game plan appeared to be one of caution. No fast out of the blocks attack - we went ultra casual allowing Fulham all of the ball in front of us. The problem with this calm approach is that you can’t suddenly turn on the tempo and sharpness when you get the ball. We didn’t press at all and when we did get chance to break the touches of Grosicki and Diangana were really careless and sloppy.

We also gave away some cheap set plays from which with SJ I’m afraid we’re always vulnerable. He doesn’t physically impose himself as we know and there were some heart in mouth moments from crosses, otherwise it was pretty bitty. This made the first half quite drab but gradually we started to get on the ball and carve a few half chances and set plays however 0-0 was about fair.

Second half I thought was much better. Phillips gave us a straightforward outlet on the right after a rusty start and Diagana picked up better pockets of space on the left.

Our Achilles Heel all season has been finishing chances and it was more of the same. A couple of crosses really should’ve been attacked and put away, Diagana blew a point blank opportunity and there were 3 or 4 times when we were a simple pass away from a tap-in but too many elected to shoot and lost out to blocks or miscued. If I was on the training pitch for the next couple of days I’d show videos of how Guardiola teams keep composure in the box and square the ball - they score dozens like it and we get into great situations that come to nothing.

Fulham had the odd break and hit the bar but the last meaningful break we had got me screaming at the TV - Pereira and Robinson allowing an uncomfortable Fulham defender to chase down a horrible clearance over his head and get rid of the danger when all either of them needed to do was put a bit of physical pressure on.

Not a disaster and it’s still in our hands but without a dangerous number 9 the worry is we’ll dominate the upcoming games again without sticking the ball away. Hopefully by Friday my blood pressure and anxiety will be ready to cope with another match.

  • SJ - 6 He can kick it far and accurately, so why do we lose the ball so much from him?
  • O’Shea - 7 His desire and determination are infectious. Challenging afternoon but he’s relentless.
  • Ajayi - 7 Mopped up most things nicely but should’ve scored. Dived in once or twice.
  • Hegazi - 8 One or two passes were cut out but some huge blocks and headers.
  • Townsend - 6 Steady game. Got caught high up once or twice.
  • Sawyers - 6 I fear, despite all the attributes, he’ll never be relied on in the EPL if we make it because of the amount of times he lets the ball bounce and concedes a counter. Has got to be able to sense the danger sometimes and just worry about winning the first one or helping it forward.
  • Livermore - 6 Much better second half when allowed to hunt.
  • Diagana - 6 Frustrating. Careless but threatening. Had to score the game’s big chance.
  • Pereira - 7 Created plenty but couldn’t make the most of his own big chances and the play acting crept in, to his and our detriment. It’s going to hamper his career if he doesn’t pack it in.
  • Grosicki - 5 Didn’t get going but he needs us high tempo to get it to him quickly.
  • Austin - 6 Can’t knock his effort or character and he did show flashes but he had to get on the end of one of the crosses and there was one high one at the back stick against a short full back that he pulled off from rather than attacking.
  • Phillips - 6 Was positive and direct, also covered well defensively.
  • HRK - 6 Linked it up better than he has recently but could’ve done better with what he was given.
  • Robinson - 5 Just not happening since the restart. Is his heart in it? Would Edwards or Tulloch show more raw desire?
  • Krovi - One last chance to attack and he took about touches and turned around.

Ancient Baggie:

Another really frustrating day. After the first 20 minutes there was only one side in it for the majority of the rest of the game but our lack of finishing just had you thinking Fulham could nick it against the run of play. We must of created 7 or 8 good chances but we couldn't hit water if we fell out of a boat. I've said it all year we just haven't got a 20 goal a season man in the club.

All that aside we are still in a decent position. Two wins against bottom half teams and we're up no matter what the others do. I think we'd have taken that before a ball was kicked this season and although it's a lottery we shouldn't really be fearing any of the sides who might end up in the playoffs.

Keep the faith. COYB

oshawabaggie:

Yes, nervy times indeed. Of course it would have been better if Krov had hit the gaping Blackburn net instead of the post, and Rodak had clipped his toenail before sticking out a foot to divert Diangana's sitter, but in a way those results have simplified things. If we assume that neither Brentford nor Leeds will slip up, we MUST win both games. That removes any fuzzy thoughts about playing for a draw: no holding back, no favouring injuries, no saving ourselves - just 180 plus minutes (minus drinks breaks) of 'balls out' positivity like we've shown for long stretches in the last few games.

If, by some wicked twist of fate, we fail to gain promotion, the cause will have been our inability to sign a genuine goalscorer. Albion's recruitment in the last year or so has been brilliant, with this one exception, so I don't necessarily blame them. But Mr Lai may rue the day he sanctioned the purchase of Zohore for 8 million (the same price as Pereira - can you believe it?) instead of sticking his hand in his pocket for a real striker. It would be tragedy to miss out on promotion, and 160 million quid, because he failed to spend 20 million.

But, let's be positive. Boing Boing!

Baggyjon:

Brendan, once again you are spot on. Some have said that Gayle would not have fitted our current system but I do believe if we had signed him up we would be home and dry by now.

It is apparent that both Robson-Kanu and Charlie, bless his cotton socks, have lost that fox in the box ability, not that Kanu ever really had it.

Another significant point is the lack of dominance from corners. We haven't replaced Dawson's ability.

It seems to me that Rakeem is not going to make it. I was hoping we might have had another Graham Lovett on our books but I doubt it. We do let teams play in front of us and we seem to lack the incisive pace or is it over elaboration to get behind opponents back line.

Having said all that we are where we are and credit to the team for the fact that 6 points will see us promoted. No one really saw Brentford winning 7 on the bounce. The fixture dates have been a nightmare and to play Brentford away second game in after lock down was a little unfortunate. On the night they were no better than us but I felt that Bilic was still working on his formation and they caught us cold. IF WE HAD WON THAT WE WOULD BE PROMOTED NOW.

Let's hope that Preston perform tonight and we get three on Friday.

Hippothirteen:

True, a better goalscorer would have seen us promoted by now. But they are hard to find (we have bought numerous donkeys/crocked/past-it players over the years - Oliver Burke, Daniel Sturridge anyone?). Gayle has been missing 'sitters' for NUFC, so not sure he would have been the answer.

Slav has got us to a point where promotion is pretty close. We are 2nd top goalscorers in the league, third best defensively. Not much is missing from the perfect magic formula. On the day we look magnificent, but sure, when we don't score our attack looks toothless. A great midfield (who all score goals) is something we never had under Pulis. So fingers crossed for the last two games.

Boing boing!