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 Brom boss Slaven Bilic perhaps sprung a surprise in their sixth Championship game of the season against Blackburn Rovers as he made changes to his midfield for the first time.
The trio of Romaine Sawyers, Jake Livermore, and Filip Krovinovic had been the Croatian’s go-to for all five league matches, but he dropped his fellow countryman in favour of Matheus Pereira.
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The Brazilian winger had only featured in a bit-part role this season having joined on loan from Sporting Lisbon, and his first start of the season saw him occupy that number ten position with Matt Phillips and Grady Diangana on either side.
His performance there was rather outstanding, which will surely give Bilic a welcome headache as the season goes on.
One of West Brom’s early-season woes has been the creation of clear-cut chances, or lack of – as Football FanCast have previously mentioned here.
Pereira’s showing suggests that he may well be a solution.
The 23-year-old put in a remarkable performance as the Baggies’ main creative outlet.
He first assisted the equaliser, feeding Philips in with a well-timed through ball before laying the ball off to Livermore, who finished with aplomb into the bottom corner to double the lead.
On top of that, his ability to create chances was further emphasised by his 30 passes in the attacking third, which was also more than anyone on the pitch.
The next best for the home side was Phillips with 20, playing out wide.
West Brom’s regular option in the number ten role, Krovinovic, has averaged just 1.5 key passes per match so Pereira’s six eclipses that substantially.
It might be that the 5 foot 9 wide man is better suited centrally, and just maybe, he can be the creative outlet they desperately need.