West Bromwich Albion 0 - Burnley 0
Even though I'm sure some will be disappointed we didn't win, there were a lot of positives to take from the game. I was worried Slav might be conservative with his selection, so I pleased to see both Hegazi and Ivanovic at the back and Krov and Gallagher in midfield. I was surprised to see Grant start, but his selection almost paid immediate dividends with a headed 'goal' ruled out for offside by a toenail. We were clearly better than Burnley in the first half but couldn't turn our possession into a goal. In the second half it could have gone either way, with both sides missing good chances. We faded a bit towards the end and I feared it might end in heartbreak again, but we held out for a point.
It's important to learn how to grind out clean sheets and scrap for draws, so I think this will help our confidence. I thought Hegazi and Ivanovic were immense. Gallagher and Krov were lively in midfield - a big upgrade on Sawyers. Pereira and especially Diangana caused problems for Burnley, although Grant was understandably quiet. Johnstone pulled off one brilliant save to keep us in it near the end, but I worry about his ability to handles crosses.
Overall, I thought our performance gave us cause for optimism.
I found a way to watch this one without forking out the fairly disgraceful £15 POV charge.
I was surprised by the number of changes. Individually they were all understandable but collectively the fear was we’d lack cohesion and play like a bunch of strangers.
In the first half we shaded it. Burnley try and make you play their way in what I think can be fairly described as an ambitious Pulis style which isn’t a criticism - unashamedly big, strong, aggressive, no nonsense defensively but when they get it forward they have a right go and get crosses in during open play rather than going for set pieces.
It was even but we played the better football, created openings and had a decent goal ruled offside that was avoidable in that it gained us no advantage - a sharper Grant would’ve timed his run a split second better and he finished it well.
My major worry, that Burnley would get their strikers on to our full backs from deep crosses didn’t happen although SJ made a great save from a half volley.
Second half we started better again with Pope divinely intervening a couple of times (please yourselves) and Ivanovic walloping straight at their defender with the goal at his mercy from 7 yards.
But from about 55 onwards we looked leggy - Grant was understandably tired, Livermore got a silly booking and from there for about 15 minutes we rode our luck massively with the woodwork and SJ keeping a clean sheet. It seemed inevitable we’d concede before Bilic got Robinson on, and his running eased the pressure a bit, then Sawyers for Krovi and eventually Phillips for Pereira sort of closed the game for us without threatening.
The positives were our centre backs, who looked solid, experienced and strong, and our midfield which showed more energy, fight and running both ways to support attacks and track defensively. All round we looked improved.
The negative - There just aren’t that many winnable games and this was one of them. We have to find a way or we’ll be like Albion promoted teams passim who find their feet in the league too late and go down competitive but having run out of matches.
Just as this was, the next game is already massive in the course of our season. No pressure or anything.
I pretty much agree with the reports from oshawabaggie and Brendan.
I was heartened to see a few changes and shows Slav can shuffle the pack – going for physical strength in defence.
Surprised Krov was included as well as Gallagher, but the midfield looked lively and offered more support / presence in all areas; especially attacking third.
Not surprisingly the physical nature of Burnley was always going to make it tough for Diangana and Pereira to shine. Thought Grant looked ok and (though I remain to be convinced) good to have a new striker option.
We played some decent football and times and should have scored through Ivanovic. Pereira sort of fluffed (by his standards) his half chance as well.
I’d say we hung on for a point though as they had the better chances and I thought last 15 we faded quickly. Some decent saves from Johnstone to note.
Positive in the nature of some of our play and that we ultimately got a point. Onwards and upwards!
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