This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
West Bromwich Albion continued to stake their claim as the division’s best side at the top of the Championship table on Saturday afternoon.
Slaven Bilic’s resilient side defeated Hull City 1-0 at the KCOM Stadium, courtesy of a long-range strike from ex-Tigers midfielder Jake Livermore.
The 29-year-old rounded off a training ground routine by slamming home an effort from outside the penalty area as he put in an industrious showing against his former club.
But his performance only goes to show just how big a loss he will be after the international break as the long-serving Albion man picked up a one-match suspension through the accumulation of five yellow cards.
As did midfield partner Romaine Sawyers, which makes it all that worse.
Industrious. Adjective. ‘Diligent and hard-working.’
“That Jake Livermore was industrious in midfield on Saturday.”
He was just that.
Per SofaScore, the seven-time capped England international registered five interceptions, three tackles, two clearances and won over half of his duels, aside from him scoring the only goal of the match, of course.
He was all over the pitch throughout the entire 90 minutes, recording 94 touches – the most of any player on the pitch. Therefore, it’s hard to argue that he was anything but diligent and hard-working at the very least.
But now Bilic is going to be without, quite possibly, the most integral part of his team’s spine as the midfielder holds everything together as the most-experienced outfield player.
It leaves the Croatian with one of his most difficult quandaries since taking charge, just who replaces Livermore when they face Sheffield Wednesday in two weeks.
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Given that Sawyers will be absent too, it makes the task all that tougher for the Baggies chief.
Gareth Barry has only just returned from an injury that nearly threatened his career, Rekeem Harper has only played six minutes in the league all season, Filip Krovinovic is more of a number ten than a defensive midfielder and then there is Chris Brunt who has played more on the wing than in the centre throughout his career, per Transfermarkt’s recorded matches.
Luckily, Bilic has some time to resolve this problem, but it will still prove to be a headache, especially if they suffer in his absence.
The chasing pack are only two points behind Albion in the league, if he gets this call wrong it could be ever so costly towards their title hopes.