The inside track on West Brom...
12 October 2016|Tottenham Hotspur
Nacer Chadli has made quite an impression at The Hawthorns - according to man in the know Matt Wilson, West Brom reporter for the Express & Star, in our latest 'inside track' feature...
Matt Wilson, Express & Star
First of all, tell us about West Brom’s summer arrivals and who has caught the eye so far...
Matt: "Nacer Chadli has grabbed all the headlines and understandably so with three goals and two assists in his opening four games. Last season Salomon Rondon was far too isolated up front but straight away the former Spurs man has provided a crucial bridge between the striker and the rest of the team. However, it’s also worth noting Allan Nyom’s arrival. The full-back’s £3 million move from Watford on deadline day went under the radar, but now he’s broken into the first team he looks like a good find. Powerful and athletic, he’s a typical Tony Pulis player, and plugs the gaping hole at left-back left by Chris Brunt’s injury. Matt Phillips joined at the start of the summer, so it feels like he’s been at the club for a while now, but he’s also steadily improved as the season has worn on."
Below: Allan Nyom
We’ve a fascinating battle with Nacer Chadli up against his former team-mates including his Belgian colleagues Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in our central defence. How has Nacer settled at West Brom?
Matt: "He's been a breath of fresh air at the Albion, there’s no doubt about it. Last season was a long grind from start to finish. The Baggies didn’t win a single game by more than a one-goal margin and the team looked devoid of ideas in the final third. But Chadli has changed all that. He’s got that creativity and guile that Albion have been missing, and he seems to be benefiting hugely from being the main man at The Hawthorns. He’s flourished since being moved inside to a central number 10 position, and he’s already regained his place in the Belgium squad too, which was one of the reasons he moved to the Black Country. The only worry is that such a good start will lead to fans expecting too much from him week in, week out, but at the moment, everything is rosy. He seems to have settled in the squad, and has already made friends with Allan Nyom, Salomon Rondon, and Claudio Yacob."
Below: Nacer Chadli
West Brom look typically tough to beat again this season - as we found out last season. How is the team playing at the moment?
Matt: "The team is playing well right now. There’s already been a couple of promising performances that suggest it could be a much more entertaining season. And that’s all the fans want, some excitement, and maybe to challenge for the top half. But it’s far too early to be getting carried away. Even though Albion are on a three-match unbeaten run, they have just played three of the worst sides in the league; West Ham, Stoke, and Sunderland (currently the bottom three). The next four games are against Spurs, Liverpool, Man City, and Leicester. Now we will see how far this team really has come."
Below: Sam Field
Do West Brom have any players missing for Saturday? How do you expect Tony Pulis to line-up for this one?
Matt: "Darren Fletcher is the only injury worry, having picked up a thigh injury for Scotland at the weekend. Albion’s skipper is eager to play against Slovakia on Tuesday night, but there’s a danger that if he’s rushed back too soon he might end up ruling himself out of Saturday (note: Fletcher did start, and played 64 minutes). Losing your captain is always a blow but it shouldn’t worry Albion too much, because Pulis and the fans have been mightily impressed with 18-year-old Sam Field. The England Under-19 international started against Bournemouth and Middlesbrough earlier this season and he plays the same deep-lying midfield role as Fletcher. Chris Brunt is nearing a return from the long lay-off that ruled him out of Euro 2016 but Saturday will probably come too soon for him. If Fletcher is fit, I expect it to be an unchanged 4-2-3-1 - Foster; Dawson, Evans, McAuley, Nyom; Yacob, Fletcher; Phillips, Chadli, McClean; Rondon."
Below: Tony Pulis
Finally, there have been a lot of draws between these teams - 9 in 20 in the PL - how do you see this one going at The Hawthorns?
Matt: "If I was a betting man, I’d put money on a score draw. Spurs have been irresistible at times this season, but Pulis is a master at frustrating the bigger teams, as he proved at White Hart Lane back in April. Albion are always dangerous from set-pieces but now they have got a genuine threat from open play too, so I can see them scoring. I’ll go for another 1-1."