West Brom’s revitalised midfield can help Slaven Bilic win his first game

This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more… 

West Brom head into the 2019/20 campaign with a sense of intrigue around them.

Not for the first time, Albion will be starting a new season with a fresh face at the helm of the club, and for that reason alone, it’s an exciting time at the Hawthorns.

Slaven Bilic most recently achieved an impressive 0-0 draw against Premier League opposition Bournemouth before their league term begins with a game against Nottingham Forest on Saturday evening.

However, the Baggies should be full of confidence, especially with a revitalised look in one area of the pitch.

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On the chalkboard

Concerns understandably still lie with West Brom’s attack. They’ve lost both Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez since last season and brought in a striker who only scored once in the top-flight in Kenneth Zohore.

It’s hardly a signing to get you on your feet but it’s in midfield where games can be won under Bilic, and it’s an area they must utilise efficiently against Forest this weekend.

Last term, Albion’s midfield was incredibly one dimensional. Among its ranks included the more defensive-minded Jake Livermore and Gareth Barry whilst Chris Brunt kept things ticking over to a consistent level with a pass success of 77.2%.

Yet, they now have far greater dynamism in the middle of the park, largely thanks to some new signings.

Semi Ajayi, who might well start in defence, will add another layer after scoring seven goals for Rotherham in defensive midfield last season but it’s Filip Krovinovic and Romaine Sawyers who make the centre of the pitch look far more appealing that it has done.

The former has already shown his qualities by scoring in pre-season and having a direct number ten should enhance their play greatly. Sawyers, meanwhile, will add extra leadership qualities having captained Brentford and will bring a smoother style.

He was brilliant when it came to passing in 2018/19, finishing with a success rate of 86.2% whilst playing six assists and 3.9 long balls, per WhoScored.

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But that’s not to mention Rekeem Harper too.

The youngster will enter this season without any distractions. He’s signed a new deal and he’s earned the backing of his new manager already.

If their midfield on Saturday is made up of Harper, Sawyers and Krovinovic it could be quite a sight.

Long gone, potentially, are the days of a midfield that lacks energy at the Hawthorns. This is a revitalised area and it could just prove match-winning.

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