On Wednesday, West Brom entertain promotion chasers AFC Bournemouth with both sides looking to secure all three points.
Over the last five games, the Baggies have taken eight points from a possible 15, with the recent 1-0 defeat against West Midlands rivals Birmingham City proving as a potential detriment to their outside chances of sneaking into the play-off places.
Results have been poor since the start of the year and even with the appointment of Steve Bruce, West Brom have struggled to settle on a formation. They have made some improvements, with Bruce deploying a 3-5-2-flat formation across the last five games, and it has seen the Baggies begin to pick up much-needed points at what is such an important time in the season.
There is a slight issue with the system though; it does not cater for all of their talent, with prospects like Grady Diangana, who has been described as a “special talent” by The Athletic reporter Steve Madeley, failing to get a look in over the last five games.
Since Bruce’s system change, Diangana’s game time has suffered drastically with the former England youth player making six-eight minute cameos off the bench for the Baggies in four of the last five games.
Just a year-or-so ago, West Ham skipper Mark Noble slammed the Hammers’ decision to let Diangana leave and shared his view in response to the club’s official tweet regarding Diangana’s departure. He said:
“As captain of this football club I’m gutted, angry and sad that Grady has left, great kid with a great future!!!!!!”
Diangana’s talent is unquestionable but his potential is not being filled.
A slight system change could allow Diangana to shine, whilst also aiding the Baggies in their pursuit of the Championship play-off places.
Bruce’s three at the back experiment has so far worked for West Brom, but the defensive constraints on the wide players translate to less freedom for Diangana, which may be why Bruce is giving him limited minutes.
If Bruce were to issue a 3-4-3-box system (3-2-2-3), as used by Xavi at former club Al Sadd, he would be able to give his wingers freedom to attack, with the two central midfielders and central defensive midfielders able to cover defensively.
Diangana can play on either wing, but being left-footed could offer Bruce an inverted option on the right, in what would be a threatening attacking trio of Robinson, Grant and Diangana (RGD for short).
The link-up between Diangana and Grant could spell real trouble for the rest of the Championship.