Hawthorns heartbreak as Baggies lose it late

West Brom 0 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Slaven Bilić and the fans demanded a reaction after the players’ abject performance at Fulham last Monday, and the team responded, but it was ultimately the same result as Harry Kane’s late winner condemned Albion to another defeat.

Ultimately, it was the Baggies’ inability to take one of the chances they created that cost them the point, if not points, they deserved. They had defended well throughout, but one mistake was critical – having made one superb save to deny Carlos Vinícius, Sam Johnstone misjudged the cross from Doherty and Harry Kane did what he does best and nipped in between the Albion ‘keeper and Kyle Bartley to nod home.

Changes were needed after the defeat at the Cottage, and Bilić made three although two were forced on him after Matheus Pereira and Branislav Ivanović were ruled out having tested positive for COVID-19. The Croat opted for a switch to 3-5-2 with Dara O’Shea and Kyle Bartley coming in to join Semi Ajayi in the back line with Callum Robinson coming in for Grady Diangana to partner Karlan Grant up front.

It was the first time since 1st February that Pereira has not been in the starting line up and his forced absence perhaps saved Bilić a difficult decision following his disappointing performance against Fulham. Diangana had also been below par in the last few games and it was no surprise to see Robinson come in, and his energetic and committed display confirmed that the head coach made the right decision.

Karlan Grant will be disappointed with a couple of the chances he had and, with Albion having scored just once in the last five games, it is an area that the whole team need to improve on quickly. A number of players came close with Darnell Furlong having a header well saved by Lloris (pictured) and Conor Gallagher clipping the post, but only two of Albion’s twelve attempts were on target.

It’s difficult to criticise the players on this performance, but that just makes the display at Fulham doubly disappointing. They need to perform at this level every week if they are to have a chance of staying up – against the likes of Spurs, they will need to be fortunate to get the result, but that kind of commitment and quality will get them results against the bottom half of the Premier League more often than not.

The international break will hopefully give Pereira and Ivanović the time to get the virus out of their system, and Bilić will need as strong a squad as possible as they travel to Old Trafford in a fortnight’s time. With United yet to win at home in the league this campaign, perhaps Albion can secure their first win at an unlikely venue.

To see the comparison of this campaign against Albion’s previous Premier League campaigns, click here.

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