Despite Valerien Ismael’s West Bromwich Albion side still boasting an unbeaten record after seven Championship fixtures played this season, the Baggies’ last two results have highlighted a clear flaw in the Frenchman’s setup at The Hawthorns.
Indeed, despite dominating possession of the ball against both Millwall and Derby County, Albion picked up just two points from the two fixtures, labouring to 1-1 and 0-0 draws against the Lions and the Rams respectively.
This led to Express & Star journalist Joseph Masi stating his belief that Ismael’s side need to be able to adapt to in-game situations more efficiently, as well it being clear that teams have figured out West Brom’s initial setup and plan under the 45-year-old.
As such, heading into what is sure to be another challenging fixture against Preston North End this Saturday, with Frankie McAvoy’s side currently on a run of four games without defeat in the league, it would appear wise for Ismael to shake things up with his starting XI for the clash with the Lilywhites.
Ismael himself stated upon Hugill’s signing that the centre-forward has the ability to make his side more adaptable, in addition to Adam Reach claiming that the 29-year-old gives Albion a “presence” in the opponent’s penalty area and dubbing the Norwich City loanee a “quality” player. Therefore, there already seems to be a view at The Hawthorns that Hugill is a player who has the talent to change up the Baggies’ style of play.
Indeed, the £1.8m-rated man has demonstrated previously that he has what it takes to find the back of the net on a consistent basis in the Championship, scoring 12 goals over 44 appearances for Preston in 2016/17 and 13 goals over 39 fixtures for Queens Park Rangers in 2019/20.
While he is yet to bag his first goal for West Brom, the £36k-per-week forward has nevertheless impressed over his three substitute appearances in the second tier, taking three shots and making 0.3 key passes per game, as well as winning an impressive 4.7 duels per fixture.
As such, it would certainly appear a wise move for Ismael to award the striker his first Championship start for the Baggies against Preston on Saturday. The 29-year-old’s physicality and eye for goal would likely terrify the Lilywhite’s centre-backs, as well as helping to make the Frenchman’s West Brom setup a little less one-dimensional.