Talking Tactics | West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City

28th January 2022
First team
Joel Piroe Talking Tactics

Swansea City will look to add to the recent difficulties for West Bromwich Albion when the pair face off at the Hawthorns tonight.

Ahead of this one, preview the game, looking at what to expect from the Baggies, the key battle to determine the eventual winner and a key stat that is sure to excite Swans supporters.

What to expect from West Brom

West Brom Steve Bruce

West Brom elected to relieve Valerien Ismael of his duties at the start of the month and replace the outgoing Frenchman with Steve Bruce.

However, there has been no new manager bounce for Bruce at the Hawthorns.

Indeed, the former Newcastle boss has seen his Baggies side earn just one point from his opening four games in charge with West Brom - previously one of the favourites for promotion - now down in 13th.

Bruce has largely favoured a 4-2-3-1 setup during his short time at the club and while the west Midlands side are struggling to turn their fortunes around, there is nothing to suggest he will move away from that system tonight.

With Jake Livermore suspended, Bruce should use a midfield base of Jayson Molumby and Alex Mowatt, the former ranking third for tackles per 90 (2.1) of all West Brom players this season.

In addition, the pair rank second (45.2) and third (43.5) respectively of all players for Bruce's side for passes per 90, so the duo are hard working and more than capable of picking out a team-mate when they do win possession.

The hard work of the pair at the base of the midfield allows those in the final third to create the opportunities with West Brom developing a statistically calculated strength of 'creating scoring chances'. It's certainly deserved with only Fulham (12.9) making more key passes per game than West Brom (10.4) in the Championship this season.

Andy Carroll is currently first-choice frontman for the Baggies and that is likely to continue on Monday, even if he is yet to score for his new employers on the back of his arrival.

Carroll netted twice for Reading in the first half of the season, but with West Brom creating ample chances week in, week out, it won't be long before 33-year-old gets his name on the scoresheet for the Baggies.

West Brom may be struggling for form at present, but the Swans will still need a strong performance to end a poor recent record at The Hawthorns.

Key battle

Bristol City home Joel Piroe 12

West Brom may be dropping down the table, but they still have one of the best defensive records in the Championship. Only Bournemouth (27) and Fulham (29) have conceded fewer goals than the Baggies (30) in England's second tier this term, with two of those coming in the reverse fixture against the Swans.

Joel Piroe had a direct hand in both goals in the Swans' 2-1 win over West Brom back in October, following up his goal on the hour mark with the assist for Jamie Paterson's winner with seven minutes of normal time to play.

Piroe earned a rating of 8.30 that day, his second best rated performance in a Championship game, and while the Dutchman has fared better on home turf in 2021-22, the 22-year-old is a key attacking threat for Russell Martin's side.

A former Swan is expected to be the man tasked with keeping Piroe and his offensive team-mates quiet at the Hawthorns in this one. Kyle Bartley has returned a better rating (7.14) than any other West Brom player this season and, while West Brom have dropped away from the play-off places, the 30-year-old has been a consistent performer at the back for the Baggies.

Key stat

West Brom Kyle Bartley

West Brom have failed to win 21 of their 33 league matches this season, hardly ideal form for a team seeking to make an immediate return to the Premier League.

And 2022 has yet to be kind for the Baggies, who have struggled since the turn of the year. A six-game winless run is currently the second longest streak of its kind in the Championship, which contributed to Ismael's dismissal, and Bruce's appointment.

Had the Championship season started at the turn of the year, then West Brom would sit second from bottom with five points from nine games to their name. Swansea will want to make sure there is no respite for the hosts on that front.