by Giuseppe Muro
West Bromwich Albion have started their return to the Premier League in impressive fashion – picking up seven points from their opening five games.
Under the stewardship of Roberto Di Matteo, the Baggies have built a reputation as a team that’s easy on the eye and a real threat going forward.
The Midlands club certainly aren’t here in the top flight to make up the numbers, but can they continue their good start at Emirates Stadium on Saturday? We spoke to Steve Madeley of the Express and Star to get a West Brom perspective on this weekend’s game.
THE MAN IN CHARGE
After the Tony Mowbray regime, which was brilliant when it worked well and really frustrating when it didn’t, Roberto Di Matteo has brought a real pragmatism. He has retained many of the good bits of the Mowbray regime in that they still try to play football when they can – they certainly aren’t a long ball side. He has worked a lot on defensive organisation when they haven’t got the ball - which has made them a lot tougher to beat. He has also put an emphasis on athleticism and bringing in stronger and quicker players. That is something they were missing in the Premier League two years ago.
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
They will believe they can get a result. They went to Chelsea on the opening day and although they lost heavily, they weren’t outplayed by Chelsea. They were undone with set pieces which is something they would have worked on and tightened up. They have improved since then. They would expect Arsenal to be their toughest test of the season so far. They accept they are outsiders but they will come down believing that if things go for them, they can at least get a point.
They beat Manchester City on Wednesday in the Carling Cup but I expect them to revert back to a lot of the team that played Birmingham last weekend. The Birmingham game and the Spurs game gave them confidence before that. They played variations of 4-5-1 with two holding players, I assume they will play 4-5-1 on Saturday with a few tenacious midfielders.They’ve placed a big emphasis on experience, whether that is in the Premier League or around Europe, so they haven’t got too many rookies in the side this season.
THE EMIRATES EFFECT
I don’t think their style will change at the Emirates. They’re not really set up to play a long ball style but what they will do is sit reasonably deep and try and soak up pressure. They will spend a lot of time this week working on defensive organisation. When they have got the ball they will try and play football because they will see that as their best chance of scoring a goal.
MAN OF THE MOMENT
Graham Dorrans was the star of the show last season in the Championship – he was the leading scorer and also the main creative force from midfield. Though he hasn’t had the best of starts this season by his own standards. He came on as a substitute against Tottenham, did really well and was changing the game. He played the full game against Manchester City and he’s one of the few players I expect to start again on Saturday. I’d look out for him – he looks like he’s coming back into what looks like his best form.