West Bromwich Albion’s return to the Premier League got off to the worst possible way as they were thrashed by their Midlands rivals at the Hawthorns.
You can’t afford to make mistakes in the top-flight as you’ll be punished and that’s what the Baggies have quickly learned following a 3-0 defeat to Leicester City on Sunday afternoon.
A pair of Jamie Vardy penalties toppled Slaven Bilic’s men after debutant Timothy Castagne opened the scoring early in the second half.
It’s clear to see that one of Albion’s biggest problems isn’t close to being resolved whatsoever. There are goals in this side with exciting attacking options in the form of Grady Diangana, Matheus Pereira and Callum Robinson.
But defensively, they are very poor.
The west Midlanders only managed to keep a clean sheet in 30% of their 46 matches last term. Only four clean sheets came at home, too.
None of Bilic’s three centre-backs could manage a rating above 6.3 per SofaScore whilst the performance from Kyle Bartley was particularly worrying as he gave away the first penalty.
The 29-year-old failed to record a single tackle, lost possession ten times, committed one foul and won just three of five duels, via SofaScore.
Considering he was a mainstay last season, it would be wise to focus their transfer intentions towards finding a viable replacement otherwise the Baggies are in for one long campaign.
Whilst the imminent signing of Branislav Ivanovic helps it somewhat, it’s not enough as Cedric Kipre is vastly inexperienced at the level – as is Semi Ajayi and Dara O’Shea, who both started against the Foxes.
Alex Bruce has previously slammed the centre-back’s inconsistencies to Football Insider, he said: “The one thing you can say about him from when he was at Swansea – and he had a bit of a time at Leeds – he’s got to get his consistency levels sorted. He’s been one to play really well, catch your eye and then make a stupid mistake like he gives the penalty away.”
From 44 passes, Bartley only managed to record a 77.3% passing accuracy, which is quite disastrous as a defender, especially considering the out-from-the-back system Bilic deploys.
Albion could do with a major upgrade to the 6 foot 4 colossus – and quick.
AND in other news, West Brom may have found themselves another Grady Diangana in 23 y/o target…