Norwich City 2 West Bromwich Albion 0
Albion suffered their third successive defeat on the road at Norwich as they failed to take a series of decent chances and were caught on the break twice. Carlos Corberán bemoaned his players’ lack of a clinical touch in front of goal which was in contrast to the hosts’ ability to convert their two best chances.
The Baggies’ Spanish head coach must be concerned about the contrast between his team’s performances at the Hawthorns and on the road. While Albion are the fifth best performers in the division on their own soil, they lie a lowly 16th in the away table having picked up just 15 points from their 14 games. In the Championship, only Plymouth Argyle have a greater contrast between their home and away results.
It is a phenomenon that extends throughout Corberán’s time at the Hawthorns. In the Championship, his points per game average is 2.17 at home (63 from 29 games) and only 1.17 on the road (34 from 29) and 17 of the 21 defeats that Albion have suffered in his time at the club have come away from the Hawthorns. To be fair to him, it was a situation he inherited – Steve Bruce won only 2 of his 15 away games in charge while Valérien Ismaël recorded just one win in his final ten games on the road.
If Albion are to mount a serious promotion challenge, it is something that he needs to solve and it may need a tweak in tactical approach when on the road. Based on the away games I have seen, the Baggies tend to start quickly but always look vulnerable to the break and, if they do go behind, it seems to affect them more than when at the Hawthorns. However, if they do manage to get an early goal, it often leads to a victory. It’s perhaps no surprise that all of Albion’s away wins this season have been to nil and only at Leeds and Birmingham have they failed to win a match on the road having scored first. Conversely, they have only won one point from away games when conceding first, and in that match, at Watford, Albion recovered quickly and were ahead within 15 minutes of going behind..
At Carrow Road, there were a few below par performances with John Swift lacking the spark he usually brings while neither full back covered themselves in glory. Furlong was caught out defensively time and again while Conor Townsend was either under instruction not to move the ball forward or was massively lacking in confidence – almost every time the ball came to him in an attacking position, he passed either sideways or back and never once tried to beat his man. Both BTA and Dike were guilty of missing decent chances, while Jed Wallace had a great opportunity when he advanced through the centre of the field but blazed his shot high and wide.
We got the chance to see new signing, Andi Weimann, off the bench but he was unable to impact the game too much and the jury remains out for the time being.
The first goal was particularly disappointing, especially as it came when Albion were well on top. Okay Yokuşlu tried to thread a forward pass through a narrow gap but it was intercepted and a moment later, Sargent was through on goal with Kipré failing to catch him offside. Alex Palmer will have been disappointed not to keep it out having done well to get down to the shot that was close to his body.
Having dominated the game before the opener, Albion failed to really get going again in the first half but were back on top again after the break. Several good chances went begging before the Baggies were caught on the break again. The game then looked lost although there were still several decent opportunities for the visitors to pull one back before the final whistle went.
It was not to be, however, and Corberán was left to lament his team’s failure to take their chances. Attention now turns to the Black Country Derby next weekend before Birmingham City visit the Hawthorns the following Saturday as league football resumes.