Writing in an article on Friday, I wrote about how West Brom would set up against us, and to be honest, they did exactly what I expected. They showed very little ambition despite needing a win and used their set-piece threat to secure the three points.
The fact that they didn’t do anything surprising makes it all the more frustrating. Mauricio Pochettino knew what he was coming up against, and still, the players failed to perform on the day. We had our chances but if we had played anywhere near our usual levels, it would have been a comfortable victory.
The change to three at the back wasn’t the right choice in my opinion. That system works best against 4-3-3 in general, as you match up centre-halves against the opponents forward line, whilst also keeping a threat up top. Against 4-4-2, many of the benefits are negated.
Especially a team like the Baggies who rely on their wingers for creativity, they are not too concerned by being outnumbered in the middle of the park, especially as they lined up deep with two banks of four in order to restrict space for Dele, Lamela and Eriksen in front of their backline.
When you play a team with a low block, you need players who can beat players one-on-one, and break the line. It would have been an ideal opportunity for Lucas to come in, while Son could have also used his pace to better effect.
As it is, we’re making qualification for the Champions League a lot harder than it should be, and with Chelsea’s win against Liverpool, it puts pressure on the team to perform in the final two games against Newcastle and Leicester.
Things are still in our own hands, but I do have concerns about the matches ahead. Neither the Magpies nor the Foxes will play expansively and allow us to exploit them in behind. Like West Brom, you can expect a deep-lying defence from Rafa Benitez, while Claude Puel’s side will look to play on the counter.
Neither side has anything to play for, and Leicester look to be in disarray so I would be surprised if we didn’t take the full six points. However, I thought there would be an easy three points at the Hawthorns as well so we shall see.