West Brom v Man City: why Baggies should press

rondon

Salomon Rondon – http://www.birminghammail.co.uk

If West Brom want to avoid defeat this weekend, they may benefit from a more aggressive approach than the one they usually take against the division’s top sides.

Manchester City’s impressive August and September form came when they played teams that were very respectful of their talents and operated with a low defensive block. Everton undertook the same strategy two weeks ago and were perhaps fortunate to escape with a point.

While Pep Guardiola is willing to change formation based on the opposition, he rarely changes the system. City always play out from the back under him and that perhaps lends an advantage to high-pressing sides, as we saw when the Citizens played Tottenham. Spurs closed them down relentlessly from the first minute and City did not change their tactics to take the pressure off themselves.

However, while Tottenham have the youngest squad in the Premier League, West Brom have the oldest squad. Salomon Rondon has a reasonable work rate, yet midfielders may not have the energy levels required to help press opposing centre-backs. By pushing too far up the pitch, without the engine of the suspended Claudio Yacob, they risk leaving space behind Gareth MacAuley and Jonas Olsson, if the latter starts ahead of Jonny Evans.

Equally, it would be a mistake for midfielders to stay in the defensive third all game, because West Brom’s standard approach only won them 10 points from 12 against top six sides last year. Midfielders such as David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan are excellent pass pickers when given time on the ball, but a feistier contest might not suit them.

The middle ground may be to emulate the performance of Southampton, who pressed City’s midfield but dropped into a more compact shape upon failure to win the ball back. Whatever their approach, the Baggies must find a way to rattle City’s silky technicians.

The Football Lab’s Verdict: 1-2

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Tottenham v Leicester Foxes more balanced with Okazaki. 1-1
Watford v Hull Janmaat back for Hornets, Tigers awful since August. 3-1
Crystal Palace v Liverpool Reds scored 2+ in 6/last 7, Eagles lost previous 2. 1-3
Everton v West Ham Toffees unbeaten at home since March. 2-1
Southampton v Chelsea No room for Blues complacency against impressive Saints. 1-1
Stoke v Swansea Allen to boss game against his old club. 2-1

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