Alan Irvine unsurprisingly made no changes to the line-up that beat Tottenham on the last Premier League outing. Some enforced changes to the subs line up though with Anichebe and Ideye out injured, Blanco and Samaras step in. Yacob came in for the ill Baird.
There was a great atmosphere in The Hawthorns from the off – in spite of it being a Sunday afternoon televised game and with the Ryder Cup competing for viewing figures in Sky’s line up.
In the early exchanges Albion start brightly. Brunt got into a good position on the left and drived a low cross across the six yard box, which just evaded the on rushing players. There was a good tempo and quality to Albion’s passing and movement early on. It was a promising start. Burnley’s first foray into Albion territory resulted in a direct through ball anticipated by Foster. Burnley look well organised defensively, at this stage, packing the defence.
In the 12th minute, Burnley appealed for handball in the box, but their screams were dismissed by Referee Moss. The game settles, with a pattern beginning to emerge. Burnley sitting deep, conceding possession, with Baggies unable to penetrate. Morrison attempts to wrestle the initiative, he goes on a run that breaks the Burnley line, feeds Dorrans whose shot is blocked, the ball comes to Brunt whose shot is deflected just wide for a corner. That was close.
Another West Brom corner, as the pressure builds, space is very tight as Burnley set up to ‘park the bus’. West Brom try the more direct approach to penetrate back line. On 20 minutes, Berahino wriggles free and places a low shot just wide.
Burnley were not offering a great deal going forward, they appear to be one dimensional and lumping the ball forward in the hope of forcing a mistake. In the 24th minute one such attempt almost catches West Brom out. Foster comes out to clear.
Minutes later Wisdom forces a corner following a spell of pressure, the ball falls to Gardner who drives at goal, defected for another corner. Good pressure here. 30th Minute – Sessegnon links with Pocognoli, who puts in a good cross. It almost finds Berahino and the ball is put out for a corner. Brunt swings in another far post effort, this time Dawson escapes his ‘Shackell’.... GOAL!!! Dawson’s headed effort finds the target, 1-0 Baggies. A touch of sweet irony with Dawson scoring against the club he submitted two transfer requests to play for only 6 weeks ago.
The game appears to have opened a little with the goal, this should suit West Brom’s natural counter attacking style. 37 Minutes – Brunt plays great pass through defence. Berahino didn’t read it, he appeared to stop his run. Just a bit of inexperience showing. West Brom controlling things at this stage. Pushing the ball around comfortably. Gardner is producing his usual high workrate and getting on the ball a lot. He drops deep to collect and then creates time and space to look at best options for attack.
Just before half time, a controlled volley from Gardner forces a corner. Brunt again causes problems with a far post in-swinger, obviously a training ground routine coming into effect. Dorrans then tried his luck from 30 yards, which dips and swerves a little and produces a fine save from Heaton. Corner – another far post in-swinger produces another corner. Great pressure again. Good link up play between Brunt and Sessegnon. Brunt’s hard low cross deflected for another West Brom corner. Morrsion swings one in near post, Dorrans gets a run on his marker and flicks it across goal for Berahino.... GOAL!!! Point blank header following a well worked routine off the training pitch. Irvine appears to have done his homework here. Burnley are all over the shop from set pieces. They have no answer to the Baggies passing and movement and smart routines from corners. At half time the Baggies deservedly lead 2-0.
After the break
The second half begins with some scruffy play, no signs of a Burnley comeback. Kightly allows his frustration to boil over with a rash ‘studs high’ challenge that provokes anger from Wisdom. The Baggies smell blood and are on the attack again with the tireless Pocognoli rampaging down the left. His workrate has given West Brom a platform for much good play this afternoon. He sends in a great cross which finds Sessegnon in space, his volley is blocked, it falls to Morrison who blazes over. Good move, good pressure again from the Baggies.
Dorrans found acres of space in midfield and played in Berahino who cleverly gets across the back line and collects a great through ball from Dorrans... GOAL!!! 3-0. He coolly slots into the bottom corner. Easy!!! 59 Minutes – No let up from the Baggies, who continue to probe. Lovely free flowing interchanges and movement, to which Burnley have no answer. They are missing 4 key players, but squad depth is a major factor in the unforgiving Premier League. As the Baggies have found in previous years.
There appears to be a bit of a swagger about West Brom now. Brunt doing the Burnley defence with ‘the eyes’ and sliding a reverse blind side pass into the on running Wisdom’s path. His cross just about scrambled away by the overworked back line. 66 Minutes – A rare attempt from Burnley nearly produces a goal. Jutkiewicz bullies Dawson and gets on the end of a cross which Foster saves well. West Brom have just slacked a little in the last 10, allowing Burnley a couple of half chances to score. Maybe time for a change? Yacob or Mulumbu to shore things up a little? Foster barks at his defence in order to regain focus and protect his prized clean sheet.
With 15 minutes left, Samaras came on for Sessegnon who leaves to a standing ovation. A good game today for Sess, whose movement and vision have caused Burnley problems. Minutes later there was brilliant play from West Brom. Brunt, Morrison, Wisdom and Dorrans moving fluidly and pulling Burnley all over the place. Dorrans gets into the box and wriggles past defence. He appears to be held back before shooting but manages to get his shot off, which screws wide. West Brom in total control now. Wisdom displaying superiority with extravagant touches and interplay.
As the game came to close, Gamboa came on for Pocognoli – a MOM contender. The fans were in jubilant mood now. Renditions of ‘Super Kev’ and ‘Bully is a Tatter’ ringing out from the stands. As injury time approached, Dorrans battles in Midfield and finds Samaras, he releases Gamboa down the right with a good ball. Gamboa finds Dorrans on the edge of the box in space.... GOAL!!! 4-0 Dorrans completes the scoring with a fine goal into the bottom corner. What a difference a week makes! A thoroughly deserved romp at home to a team that looks destined to return the Championship.
Come on you Baggies!