West Bromwich Albion come to Wembley on Saturday afternoon for the first game of their post-Pulis era.
One gets the impression that there’s been a collective sigh of relief at Pulis’s figurative passing, and having no league wins since the second game of the season this is hardly surprising. The comfort with which he took them to midtable last season shouldn’t be forgotten however as they contemplate Allardyce, O’Neill, Koeman et al; it was about this time last year that they started banging in four goals a game quite regularly with Rondon & Phillips gaining as much popularity in fantasy league selections as Craig Dawson and Gareth McAuley generally do.
Gary Megson is in charge whilst a permanent replacement is found, how the players respond will be interesting, as though a yoke as been lifted or with one eye on the upcoming transfer window?
We’re having a strange old time of it currently. Batter Liverpool, get Carabao-ed, lose to Dull United, see off the European Champions, sneak past Palace, lose the NLD, trounce Dortmund in Germany… up and down faster than a Danny Rose mood swing. In theory, the game against West Brom begins a short period of light relief until we go to Middle Eastlands the week before Christmas though it’s not that light, we have visits to Leicester and Watford in the seven days following the Baggies, neither straightforward especially with a slightly malfunctioning and far from fully fit, front line. Both Kane and Dele are still recovering from their hamstrings, the midfield is down to the bare bones without Wanyama, Dier (as he’s forced into the back three) and only half a Dembélé – the rise of Winks could hardly have come at a more opportune time for both him and us.
Aurier and Rose featured in Germany but we will probably be back to the slightly more prosaic Trippier and Davies for the weekend. Whoever the fullbacks are though they’ll be given instructions to be braver and press and attack higher than they did at the Hemorrhoids. Everything becomes too narrow and stodgy very quickly if they don’t.
Intriguingly the prospect of Erik Lamela making the bench maybe is being dangled before us. This time two years ago potential of the man was in no doubt, but that was two years ago. He’ll undoubtedly struggle when he does eventually reappear, Poch loves him for his pressing and chasing though so he’ll be given a bit of leeway I’m sure.
After his performance on Wednesday Son deserves a chance if he can be squeezed in to the line-up, it’s hard to see at the expense of whom though to be honest. Fitness will come in to it I’m sure.
If we start with some momentum and knock West Brom off their stride, especially with an early goal, we can expect a fairly rocking afternoon. Let them think that we’re not on our game however and it could be another Burnley, Swansea, Palace, Bournemouth more attritional affair.
Mike Jones is the referee.
Have something to tell us about this article?