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Prolific duo can fire Baggies to stability

Baggies set for another solid season

By | 16th September 2011

At first look, West Brom’s lone win after their first four Premier League encounters may, to the untrained eye, be symptomatic of the struggles they have endured in past seasons as a “yo-yo” club, shuffling between second-tier triumphs and top-flight relegations.

But the performances put in by Roy Hodgson’s side suggest more than the three points out of a possible fourteentwelve, which sees the Baggies lie 13th currently. Opening your season with Manchester United, and then Chelsea the next week, is not ideal for any side in the world.

Defeat was perhaps expected by most of the support and pundits, but the fight and verve showed by West Brom in 2-1 defeats to two of Europe’s best have given reason to believe that the side that finished 11th last term, somewhat surprisingly given their top-flight history, can indeed push on and perhaps even break into the top-half.

Stoke City were extremely fortunate to snatch a late winner in the third match of the season, but maturity throughout their 1-0 defeat showcases why this Baggies side should make relegation fears a thing of the past.

The addition of Shane Long from Reading has provided Nigerian sensation Peter Odemwingie with a bona fide partner in attack, and one that has paid dividends already this season. Long put in man of the match performances against Manchester United and Chelsea, notching a goal in both matches and troubling defences.

The Tipperary native was prolific in the Championship last year, bagging 24 goals for the Royals, but it seems the general opinion towards the Championship as a league that is going ever further away from the Premier League in terms of quality saw none of the game’s giants come in for the Irish striker.

Rumored interest from West Brom, Everton, Celtic, and even Bayern Munich, as well as a desire to play top flight football, saw Long end his successful association with the Berkshire outfit for a move to the midlands side. At 24, it seems the time is now for Long to make his mark for both club and country.

His impressive form has seen him emerge as a legitimate contender for a starting spot, breaking up the almost untouched partnership of Robbie Keane and Kevin Doyle. And it was former Cork City and Reading team-mate Doyle who was initially dropped in favour of Long for Ireland’s crucial clashes with Slovakia and Russia, although injury to Long saw Doyle start anyway.

Robbie Keane’s move to MLS signifies perhaps the final move of a storied career, but with Doyle and Long firing on all cylinders in the Premier League, Giovanni Trapattoni has had to ponder actually dropping Ireland’s record goal scorer to make way for Long.

Peter Odemwingie was probably more well-known for the shameful racism he endured whilst at Lokomotiv Moscow, but his Premier League debut last season quickly brought the attention back to his main talent; scoring goals.

Odemwingie hit an 81st minute winner against Sunderland the day after jetting in from Moscow to complete his move to West Brom, and his debut season was successful for player and club, his 15 goals and 7 assists a major reason West Brom finished 11th.

The Hawthorns faithful have taken an immediate liking to the Nigerian, and a three year contract extension signed in August will see him at the club for the foreseeable future, even with Arsenal and others linked with him, with Wigan having a bid rejected.

The 30-year old has shown work-rate in abundance, and as his assists count reflects, an eye for goal for his team-mates too. His tendency to make the most of even the smallest chance has wreaked havoc on defences up and down the country, and his strike against Norwich City in just his 2nd appearance of the year after injury will not come as good news to future opponents.

With Roy Hodgson’s expertise and experience, the success of his new side are beginning to erase the horror memories of his turbulent spell at Anfield, and the 2-1 victory over Dalglish and Liverpool was surely sweet revenge for the well-travelled manager towards the end of last season.

This afternoon’s trip to newly promoted Swansea will certainly provide the Welsh side with an opportunity to build on their two points points, courtesy of scoreless draws with Wigan and Sunderland. But the Swans will not relish the prospect of 90 minutes against Long and Odemwingie at the Liberty Stadium.

Reader Comments

The below views are those of our readers and do not reflect the opinions of Premiership Talk or its employees.
  1. David James says:

    Long and Odemwingie were out of their depth at the Liberty on Saturday.

  2. baggieken says:

    just to say…..quite a good assessment but how can we possibly have 3 points from a possible 14? We’ve only played 4 games and won once which is 3 points from a possible 12 from my reckoning :o/ In multiples of 3 I don’t know where 14 comes into the equation? Dont know if thats bad writing or worse editing to be honest…

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