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West Bromwich Albion

West Brom stifled by Irvine

West Brom
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Irvine got it wrong at Chelsea

West Brom
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Defending a worry for West Brom


West Brom's 3-1 loss to Manchester City was expected, but a meek second half performance and more poor defending offered more cause for concern ahead of a crucial game with West Ham. - Report: Man City 3-1 West Brom There were some impressive aspects to West Brom's performance, with the obvious one being a superb goal scored by Graham Dorrans to bring the game back to 2-1. With the vast array of expensive, attacking talents at Manchester City's disposal, the goal of the game coming from a West Brom player seemed unlikely, yet that is what happened. The Scot has been impressive since manager Pepe Mel brought him back into the first team picture and his goal was simply outstanding. West Brom countered from a Man City free kick, Stephane Sessegnon played it into Matej Vydra who played the ball to Dorrans. It was an awkward ball for him to deal with but he scooped it forward with his first touch, followed by a delicate touch past Gael Clichy and then a powerful finish on the half-volley leaving City goalkeeper Joe Hart no chance. At 2-1 it seemed like Albion might have had a chance, particularly with them looking dangerous on the counter-attack. However, yet more poor defending from a set piece took the game away from The Baggies. Struggling at set plays and crosses into the box have become a common theme of Mel's reign at Albion. They conceded two from crosses against Tottenham, one from a cross and one from a set play against Cardiff. There seems to be a complete lack of organisation at the back, with many of those goals being free headers. The fact that the blame can't be pinned on one individual making consistent mistakes shows that it is a problem plaguing the entire defensive unit. It seems that whoever plays in defence is unable to take control and organise, whether it be Jonas Olsson or Gareth McAuley or Craig Dawson. This inability to defend balls into the box and mark properly at set pieces allowed Pablo Zabaleta and Martin Demichelis to score goals for City, the only goal that they scored which wasn't preventable was a great strike from Sergio Aguero. West Brom's poor defending from these situations is particularly worrying when you consider that their next opponents are West Ham. They play with two wingers who are good crossers of the ball, with Andy Carroll and Kevin Nolan constant threats in and around the box. If Albion continue to defend as they have done recently, those two will have a field day at the Hawthorns. Matters won't be helped by the absence of Liam Ridgewell. Despite the ex-Birmingham man having a poor season, he has improved in recent weeks, albeit regressing against City. His injury means that Chris Brunt will play left back against West Ham. It is not an ideal situation going into a game against a side who like to get the ball wide quickly. While Albion's captain has deputised well in that position when The Baggies have needed him, he's never had to perform the role for a full 90 minutes and in particular up against a skilful winger. Not only that, but it does take away one of West Brom's most potent attacking forces under Mel. The other discouraging aspect from West Brom's performance against Man City was the second half. Going all-out attack against them is obviously a no-go, but West Brom showed barely any attacking intent in the second half. They seemed content with simply keeping the scoreline down, sitting back and letting them have the ball. There was a five-minute spell when Albion attacked and they did look threatening. No one wanted to see a gung-ho approach from Albion, as that would have ruined their goal difference. A comeback was unlikely, but to seemingly surrender and give-up without even trying to press higher up the pitch or apply a bit of pressure was just disappointing, particularly for the 300 West Brom fans who played 56 pounds to watch their team. I've said before that these games don't define your season, but that doesn't mean they should be written off. West Brom have taken points from all of the top seven except Manchester City this season. It wasn't beyond the realms of possibility that they could have taken something at the Etihad; you only have to look at Sunderland's previous two results to see that. What you can take from these games, even if you lose, is some kind of sense of momentum. A strong second half performance would have offered far more encouragement and positivity going into the West Ham game rather than the second half display that was seen against City.