How much do we need a win at West Brom?
Its only three points, right?
The best day of the football year is only a few days away and we kick off with a match against friend of the family Steve Clarke’s West Brom. Last season we won at their place, and then they won at ours.
There is no reason to think this will be an easy match.
West Brom has strengthened over the summer and will be a threat. Odemwingie is always a handful (25 goals in 60 games) and they’ve also signed Wolfsburg’s Sweden international Markus Rosenburg who is also pretty handy. He scored 40 goals in 123 games for Wolfsburg and 9 in 33 for Racing Santander when he was loaned out for a season, not too shabby. They’ve also borrowed Lukaku from Chelsea, frankly that’s not a bad strike force.
They’ve also added Argentina international midfielder (albeit it a fringe international 3 games and 1 goal) Claudio Yacob and winger El Ghanassy from Gent who had previously been linked with City, AC Milan and Lyon (but obviously wasn’t quite good enough for those boys, however has actually looked alright in pre-season).
They’ve still got Morrison and Brunt, so we can expect powerful wing play supporting their new look strike force. Make no mistake this is a difficult game. Also you’d imagine Steve Clarke would know if there are any weaknesses SKAG have and how to put them under maximum pressure.
One would imagine Clarke has been working on their defence too, he’s a good defensive coach and we have to expect them to be well organised. In pre-season they’ve played Malmo, Copenhagen, Barnsley, Sheffield Wednesday, Wallsall and Notts Forest, conceding 3 goals and scoring 12. Only losing to Malmo, their first friendly (think Toronto).
This will be a challenging away game but I believe it is absolutely crucial that we win. Here is why.
After the Baggies match the games then come thick and fast 5 days after we’re away at Hearts, and 3 days after that we’ve got City at ours. Then its 3 days rest and the return leg against Hearts, then 2 days rest and its Arsenal at Anfield before we have a couple of weeks off.
In the league the Arsenal and Man City games will obviously be very tough and getting a result will be a bonus. We’re not talking Gomel we’re talking Van Persie (probably), Podolski, Tevez, Aguero, experienced defenders and excellent midfields which will really examine our fledgling pressing and possession game.
Coming off a loss to West Brom will put us under enormous pressure to get something from these games. Questions will be raised about the tactics and the players and the new approach, these questions will be irrational and unfair but they will come.
Coming off of a good result will add to the growing momentum most of us are getting caught up in at the moment. It will be a case of bring on City, rather than oh great and now its City.
Mentally its crucial.
Looking longer term we probably need 70 points this season (out of 114 possible) to challenge for 4th place this gives us 44 points to fritter away.
City, United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs games are arguably the most difficult and will account for 30 points. Last season we did well against these teams 4 losses, 3 wins and 3 draws (12 points out of 30).
Although it has to be said 2 of those 3 wins were in, shall we say, slightly unusual circumstances – the Arsenal match was when they had Koscielny injured after 15 minutes so the inexperienced Miquel came on and looked very shakey later giving away an own goal, Frimpong got sent off 5 minutes later, also Nasri was all but transferred and a bit quiet. The Chelsea match was before their Champion League final and their mind was definitely elsewhere. So 3 wins, yeah but there is a but which we can’t rely on this season.
These “top5” teams and the “difficult 5” teams equate to 60 tough and unpredictable points. We can afford to lose approximately 44 points overall and still challenge for the Champions League. Last year we dropped 44 points against these 10 teams alone.
We can hope and dream that we’ll be beating Utd and City, but not yet chaps. We may win, yes, but they have better teams than us and we should assume that the growth in points we need from the 49 we got last season to the 70 we need this season will not come from that group of “top 5” teams.
The “difficult 5” we have a better team than they do, but they are adept at making themselves hard to beat, how do you feel when you look at the fixture list and its Stoke away, everyone feels like that they’re horrible. Swansea won’t be the force they were last year and Fulham and Wigan can be as bad as they can be good we can improve our points tally from these teams sure we can, but there are easier points to get.
It’s the remaining teams we need to beat and to dominate. Villa, Norwich, QPR, West Brom etc…
The remaining 54 points available come from these teams that aren’t the “top 5” or the “difficult 5” 54 points available and we dropped 21 of them last season. Equivalent to 7 losses – this must be the area of significant improvement. We can work up to beating the better teams over the next season or two but right here right now its these teams that offer us growth potential.
We must beat them, every point we drop against one of these teams is another point we need to secure against City, Utd, Stoke, etc There are easier points to go for.
Change our 33 points won 21 dropped from these teams to 48 points won and 6 points dropped and we’re back in business. 49 points for the season moves on to 64 points for the season, 6 points short of our target of 70.
I’m sure between Swansea, Wigan and Fulham we can up our points tally enough to reach the Champions League spot.
I know it’s not as simple as I’m making it but I hope you get my point that we must focus on beating these particular teams this first season of the Rodgers Revolution this must be our focus and everything else is a bonus.
We must beat West Brom
Come on you Reds
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