Tactically speaking - West Brom

Tactically speaking

The Official Website and WhoScored.com take a detailed look at how West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion might tackle Saturday's Barclays Premier League fixture at The Hawthorns.

The analysis looks at the job West Ham goalkeeper Adrian will have on his hands to stop an increasingly potent West Brom attack, while there is also an in-depth look at how the Baggies could approach what is a vital game for both sides.

West Ham United


Ahead of West Ham United's trip to West Bromwich Albion, football statistics website WhoScored.com have taken the opportunity to preview the fixture.

The two teams played out an enthralling 3-3 draw at the Boleyn Ground in December and supporters will be hoping for a similarly entertaining affair when the teams meet again at The Hawthorns. The Hammers, however, come into the fixture on the back of a disappointing 1-0 defeat by Crystal Palace, with a Mile Jedinak penalty proving to be the difference at the weekend.

West Brom, on the other hand are unbeaten in their last seven at home. Six of these have been draws and a victory for the Hammers would undoubtedly see the Baggies fall back into the relegation scrap, with just three points separating them and the bottom three at the start of the weekend. West Ham are undefeated in their last six league meetings with the Midlands outfit and are likely to be confident of continuing this run on Saturday.

Goalkeeper Adrian will certainly play a key role in ensuring the Baggies' attack is kept at bay. The Spaniard has performed well since making the No1 spot his own, as highlighted in his average WhoScored.com rating (6.8), one of the best of all regular goalkeepers in the Premier League this term.

His importance to the side is highlighted in West Ham's win percentage with Adrian starting (41.2%) compared to without (16.7%). The 27-year-old's displays this season have certainly left supporters and neutrals suitably impressed.

He will be tasked with continuing his recent form against a West Brom side that are likely to pose a threat in the final third on Saturday. The Baggies have scored in eight of their last nine league games at home, including six in their previous two against Cardiff and Tottenham.

Unsurprisingly, this has seen West Brom develop a WhoScored.com style of play of 'taking a lot of shots', with the Baggies keen to test the opposition goalkeeper at any given opportunity. However, with Adrian boasting WhoScored.com strengths of 'shot stopping' and 'saving long shots', the former Real Betis stopper has the ability to repel the West Brom attack, in the process securing his sixth clean sheet of the season.

Granted, Pepe Mel's side have been in form in front of goal at home of late, but the goalkeeping ability of Adrian should be enough to help deny the Baggies and see West Ham secure a positive result.

*WhoScored.com is a website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Follow @WhoScored on Twitter.

West Bromwich Albion

Possible starting XI


Jones  McAuley  Olsson  Brunt

Amalfitano  Mulumbu  Dorrans  Berahino



West Bromwich Albion have favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation in more than half of their Barclays Premier League matches this season and, with a positive result being demanded by manager Pepe Mel, that system could be favoured by the Spaniard again.

However, Mel did opt for a 4-4-1-1 shape in West Brom's most-recent home game against Tottenham Hotspur, when the Baggies roared into a 3-0 lead before relinquishing it to draw 3-3. With the former Real Betis boss wanting a win, the hosts could again favour that more offensive system.

The Baggies have won just three of the 15 league games they have played in 2014, but have lost just one of their last seven - drawing six and losing one. Since his appointment on 9 January, Mel has tasted victory just twice as he seeks to install a more patient passing game at The Hawthorns.

Tactically under Mel, West Brom have certainly become a more potent attacking threat, but the Baggies still enjoy just 46.4 per cent of possession and find the target with less than four shots per game on average. That said, those numbers have been increasing under Mel.

Defensively, West Brom commit the fifth-highest number of fouls per game in the Barclays Premier League (11.5), but they do make the sixth-highest number of interceptions (15.3), with defensive midfielders Youssouf Mulumbu and Claudio Yacob vital to breaking up opposition attacks.

Personnel-wise, if West Brom opt for a 4-4-1-1 formation, Ben Foster will start in goal. In front of him, the back four will change from last Monday's trip to Manchester City. Left-back Liam Ridgewell is nursing a knee injury suffered in that game, so captain Chris Brunt will likely move back from his usual role on the left of midfield. Wherever he plays, Brunt's delivery from open play and set pieces will pose a huge threat to the Hammers.

In the centre, Craig Dawson will make way for Gareth McAuley if the Northern Irishman recovers from calf problem in time.

The defensive-minded Youssouf Mulumbu will likely be partnered by the more creative all-round midfielder Graham Dorrans in the centre of the park, with the mercurial Stephane Sessegnon ahead of them in the 'hole' between the West Ham midfield and defence. It will be vital to the Hammers' chances that whoever shields the back four gets hold of Sessegnon.

With Brunt dropping into the defence, young star Saido Berahino could come into the team on the left wing. A direct and skilful player, the England U21 international scored West Brom's equaliser in the 3-3 draw at the Boleyn Ground in December 2013.

Berahino and right winger Morgan Amalfitano will look to link-up with attacking full-backs Brunt and Billy Jones whenever possible, overloading the wide areas, putting pressure on West Ham's full-backs and causing the Hammers' own wingers to track back regularly.

Up front, Czech Republic international Matej Vydra is likely to lead the line, but Mel may choose to deploy the more physical Victor Anichebe in a bid to unsettle West Ham's centre-backs.

Should the West Brom boss instead opt to go with his more defensive 4-2-3-1 shape, Argentine defensive midfielder Claudio Yacob would likely come into the side instead of Berahino and sit deep alongside Mulumbu. Dorrans would play in a wider role on the left of the attacking midfield trio.