West Brom’s survival bid took a drastic turn for the worst on Tuesday night as they were beaten by rock-bottom Sheffield United.
It leaves Sam Allardyce’s men some nine points away from safety, and ultimately, one point against the two sides above and below them is simply not good enough and could suggest that the writing may already be on the wall.
And it’s hardly a surprise given the performances of some of his current players, they’re simply letting him down in these crucial games. None more so than young defender Dara O’Shea.
The 21-year-old has been deployed at centre-back and right-back this season without settling on a true position, which tells you that Big Sam likes him enough to keep him among the starting XI despite some questionable performances – not least against the likes of West Ham and Arsenal in recent weeks.
Once again, he struggled to deal with top-flight opposition, and that’s a worrying sign given the Blades are not just below them in the table but also one of only two teams the Baggies have actually beaten.
In terms of overall performance, the Irishman graded as Albion’s worst defender with a 6.5 rating on SofaScore, and when delving into the numbers deeper, it’s easy to see why.
O’Shea lost possession more than anyone else on the pitch (23 times), meaning he was sloppy and wasteful in giving the ball back to the opposition. Indeed, he lost the ball once every 3.9 minutes and once every 2.5 touches (59 total).
He was also hugely lightweight in his battles, allowing match-winner Jayden Bogle in frequently along that right flank. O’Shea won 55% of his duels, including just twice on the ground, which only shows how the Blades wing-back dominated him.
In addition to his inability to keep hold of possession, O’Shea was diabolical with his passing, managing to make only 54% of his passes – the worst of any Albion outfield player, via SofaScore.
It begs the question to just why skipper Jake Livermore received so much flak on social media when evidently, it’s that leaky backline that’s causing their downfall again. No team across Europe has conceded as many goals as West Brom.
As BirminghamLive’s Joseph Chapman said in his post-match ratings, O’Shea ‘lost a crucial duel which United scored their winner from,’ and that’s perhaps why they lost such a vital encounter.
The calamitous O’Shea badly let his manager down with such a weak display and that’ll surely have Big Sam pondering his place going into the weekend.
Livermore may be the fans’ scapegoat, but it was Albion’s defender who looked completely out of sorts on Tuesday night.
AND in other news, West Brom eye bargain deal as Big Sam reveals “good news”…