West Bromwich Albion v Watford: Tactical analysis of the Baggies

With West Brom 13 points above the relegation zone, a point behind Everton and four behind champions Chelsea, Tony Pulis' side can argue they have had an excellent season. Yet the league table only tells half the story.

West Bromwich Albion v Watford: Tactical analysis of the Baggies
West Brom have flattered to deceive this season (photo: Getty Images)

Usher the name of the Birmingham club and many football fans would relate it to the Saido Berahino affair and typical Tony Pulis tactics this season. There has not been many particularly stand out moments for the club sitting 14th, two points above Watford, but the Baggies have scrapped and scraped points wherever they can to reach a position that defies the statistics.

A lack of attacking threat

Before Christmas, the West Brom teamsheet would not have striked fear into the hearts of opposition defenders. With Saido Berahino earning his living in the reserves after a public spat with the board following their decision to block a move at the end of the summer transfer window, Salomon Rondon, Stephane Sessegnon and Rickie Lambert were tasked with scoring the goals to keep the Baggies afloat.

Yet West Brom have struggled to create chances this season. Only Aston Villa have scored less goals from open play, whilst the Villains are also the only side to have scored less goals overall than the Baggies, who are tied on 31 with Watford.

Opposition goalkeepers have also generally had their easiest days against West Brom. At an average of 9.6 per game, they have had less shots than any other team in the league and fewer on target at 2.8. In front of goal, West Brom are relegation material.

Since Tony Pulis and Saido Berahino patched up their relationship at the turn of the year, West Brom have looked more threatening in front of goal but have remarkably still yet to win a game by more than one goal this season.

Kick and run

Part of West Brom's lack of goal threat has come from their style of play. Tony Pulis was renowned for his direct style at Stoke City and he has taken that to West Brom in a team that lacks any real creative playmakers. With 257, they have played less short passes than any team in the league, but the sixth most long balls and crosses.

It is an interesting tactic considering the Baggies have no stand out target men, other than perhaps Lambert who has been used sparingly this season since his move from Liverpool in the summer. Do not expect a West Brom player to go on a mazy dribble either. Only Southampton have been less adventurous in this department

Fantastic Foster and marvellous Myhill

So if West Brom's success has not been based on their attacking prowess, surely they are solid defensively? However yet again the statistics make relatively from viewing for the defenders.

Only Newcastle United have conceded more shots per game than West Brom, whilst Swansea are the solitary team to have completed less tackles than the Baggies.

Yet only seven teams have conceded less goals than West Brom this season. With that in mind, they have Ben Foster and Boaz Myhill to be extremely grateful for, as they have conceded just 39 goals in 32 games between them. With almost every other statistic relegation form, Foster and Myhill have arguably been the players to keep West Brom away from the relegation zone this season.