For possibly the first time this season there was an air of optimism surrounding The Hawthorns. After back-to-back victories against Sunderland and Norwich the Baggies were hoping to make it three in a row against high-flying Leicester.
Tony Pulis named an uncharged starting XI to the team that beat the Canaries last time out. The question most Albion fans were asking is whether Albion’s back-line would be able to cope with the pace of Jamie Vardy.
The Baggies have been difficult to watch so far this season at home. Fans have been crying out for Pulis to take the shackles off all season. With Leicester happy to play an expansive game it looked set for an open game.
Leicester looked like they had two main threats. Wingers Albrighton and Mahrez fired cross after cross into the Albion area. When they got sick of watching Evans and McAuley header the ball away, they lumped it over the top for Vardy to chase down.
In form Vardy almost opened the scoring in the first half when he twisted and turned Evans but fired effort against the inside of the post and the ball bounced clear. Albion went up the other end and opened the scoring with his first goal at The Hawthorns. Sessegnon fired over a corner and the big striker flicked an unstoppable header at the near post.
Albion’s main threat all afternoon came from set pieces. Worringly after 10 games of the season we still don’t seem fluid in possession of the ball. Berahino and Rondon haven’t formed any sort of partnership and there’s no threat coming from the middle of the park.
From another corner, Brunt fired the ball over and Jonny Evans was a whisker away from heading home. Evans ran to the referee complaining. Replays shown he was being held back by Ulloa. From another corner, Albion were again complaining. The ball cannoned high into the air and Huth wrestled McAuley to the ground with his arm around throat. How the referee failed to award a penalty was astonishing.
After the break
The Baggies had more reason to complain in the first talking point of the second half. James McLean crossed from the left and found the chest of Darren Fletcher. Albion’s captain controlled the ball but was shoved in the back by Robert Huth. Referee Anthony Taylor again waved Albion’s appeal away.
Leicester hit back. Dawson gave Albrighton too much space on the right. He crossed deep and Mahrez stole in behind Brunt to sweep home. An equaliser out of nothing. The goal gave the visitors the boost they needed. Albion were quite comfortable at 1-0. But again they folded quickly – just like they did against Everton.
Seven minute after the first, Leicester were leading. In almost identical fashion, Albrighton crossed at to the far post where Mahrez slotted past Myhill. Replays showed the winger was offside when the ball was crossed.
Pulis replaced the ineffective Yacob with Morrison as he searched for a way back into the game. It backfired. Without Albion’s shield Leicester were able to counter attack and that man Jamie Vardy raced clear of Evans to smash home his eighth consecutive Premier League goal.
Brunt hobbled off with a hamstring injury allowing the tricky Callum McManaman to finally get some game time. The former Wigan man tricked his way into the area and Albion were finally awarded a penalty when Nathan Dyer made a clumsy tackle. Rickie Lambert grabbed the ball and slotted the ball home for his first Albion goal.
Albion pushed forward for an equaliser. McManaman came within a whisker before Lambert forced Schmeichel into a late close range save. But Leicester used every trick in the book to hang on to three points.
It was another disappointing result at home this season. Albion have the second worst home record in the Premier League. We scrapped a 1-0 win against Sunderland and got a point in the bore draw with Southampton. The home form has to improve. So too does Albion’s defending.
Pulis’ insistence to play players out of position at both full-back decisions came back to haunt Albion on Halloween. Brunt was at fault for the first goals and Dawson for the second. Natural full backs should’ve been in position to cover their centre half.
The most disappoint aspect of Saturday was that Albion looked comfortable leading but crumbled once they had conceded. It was Everton all over again. Once the side loses the momentum they go to pieces.
It’s great having a decent defensive record. But that’s the fourth time in six games that we’ve conceded three goals. When the Baggies are good in defence, they are very good. When they’re bad they’re awful.
Bring on Manchester United and Arsenal.
COME ON YOU BAGGIES!