Since my last blog just seven days ago, we have played two tough matches and come away with a very impressive four points.
Last Wednesday night saw us take on Newcastle United at St James’ Park, a ground which has played host to some of our more entertaining games over the last couple of years. Despite allowing Newcastle to equalise after we had gone ahead on two occasions, a half-volley from Paul Scharner just five minutes from time sealed a magnificent three points.
It sounds as though it was one of those games where the vast majority of our players performed very well, although Gareth McAuley, Chris Brunt, Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long were four players who received a particularly large amount of praise for their performances.
There was no time to dwell on such an impressive victory though, as we welcomed Premier League leaders Manchester City to The Hawthorns just five days later.
Most Albion fans had written this game off as a heavy defeat, with the back-to-back wins against Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United ensuring that we could see our encounter against the most consistent side in the Premier League so far as a bonus game.
This was the first home game I have missed all season, but it sounds as though we produced an absolutely outstanding defensive display and even caused Manchester City’s defence one or two problems ourselves.
Two players who emerged from the game with a lot of credit are Billy Jones and Gareth McAuley, both of whom arrived at the club on free transfers from Preston North End and Ipswich Town respectively.
A lot of our fans were fairly underwhelmed by their arrival, but McAuley has arguably been one of the main contenders for our Player of the Season so far, and Jones has been solid at left-back and right-back whenever he has been called upon.
In fact, it’s fair to say that all of our summer signings have made a positive impact so far this season. Ben Foster has performed consistently in goal and has shown himself to be far more confident than Scott Carson ever was, while Shane Long has been exceptional up front, with his all round game and goalscoring ability making him an instant hit with our supporters.
The only player who has not had much of an opportunity to make an impact has been Zoltan Gera, who is unfortunately out for the rest of the season after picking up yet another serious injury in just his third game back from a six-month lay-off.
Onwards and upwards
Our next match sees us take on Everton in a 12.30pm kick-off at The Hawthorns on New Year’s Day, before travelling to White Hart Lane to take on Spurs just two days later.
These two games will be a real test of the stamina levels in the squad, although the confidence gained by picking up seven points from our last three games ensures that we should be heading into these two matches in buoyant mood.
There is no doubt that these are going to be two very tough games, but if we show the defensive qualities we showed against Manchester City and the attacking strength we showed against Newcastle United, hopefully we can pick up a couple of positive results to start 2012 in the same way we have finished 2011!
I would just like to take this opportunity to wish all the readers of this blog a very Happy New Year.
Can Albion continue their form against Everton and Spurs? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.