All Change For West Brom?
Without making any excuses for that aberration on Sunday, it is time to draw a line under it and move on to the challenges ahead.
The derby was (hopefully) an abrupt blip that does not fit in with the recent run of performances. It was only a few short days ago that the heroic effort against Benfica was praised by fans and media alike. Everything that needed to be said about yesterday has been.
The reality of the situation is that there are five matches left to secure survival and we need to be careful that we don’t get sucked into a relegation dogfight, beginning with a positive result at West Brom on Saturday.
Without the Europa League to divert our focus anymore, the European hangover excuse is no longer valid. With nearly a full week to prepare, one would hope that fatigue will not be a factor in team selection or performance. As far as the latest news suggests, only Coloccini of our list of absentees is likely to make a comeback in time to feature in the fixture. Ben Arfa will hopefully continue his return from the hamstring injury that has plagued his season, while Krul’s dislocated shoulder has ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.
Having already described Sunday as an unfortunate blip, in my mind there doesn’t seem to be the need for a radical change. The 4-2-3-1 formation seems the best way to incorporate the current group of players and should theoretically maximise our strength in midfield. Krul’s injury should see Elliot deputise in his absence once more. With doubts over the match fitness of Coloccini, Yanga-Mbiwa should continue to partner Taylor at the centre of a defence flanked by Debuchy and Haidara. The decision to utilise Jonas today at left back was likely due to his experience and the occasion, but Haidarahas delivered a series of steady performances that suggest he is ready to cover in Santon’s absence.
The midfield is likely to be the area where most fans will be divided. The central trio of Cabaye, Sissoko and Tiote would usually be the preferred three but there have been question marks over their form. With Sissoko naturally accustomed to a more defensive role and Cabaye looking limited in the more withdrawn position, perhaps it would be wise to switch these two to try and ignite some sort of spark in their games.
Which wide players are selected depends on whether Ben Arfa is ready to be risked from the beginning. If so, one would assume he’d start alongside Gouffran. If not, the position opens for either Marveaux or Jonas. Due to it being an away fixture against a good if not spectacular West Brom side, the latter would provide better cover even if he is much derided.
Then of course, with Cisse’s recent form and the absence of other striking options Papiss would lead the line.
What is your preferred eleven or system for what is shaping up to be a crucial fixture at the Hawthorns?
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