Saturday saw us suffer a disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to Norwich City, despite playing well for long periods and doing enough to come away with a point at the very least.
Unfortunately, two lapses of concentration defensively – one right at the end of the first half and one with just over ten minutes remaining – saw us fall to our seventh home league defeat of the season and left us looking nervously over our shoulders.
The main criticism from a lot of supporters this season has been that Roy Hodgson has adopted an unnecessarily defensive approach, particularly at The Hawthorns. This was certainly the case in our previous home league game against Everton, where it was clear from very early on in the game that Hodgson would not have been disappointed with a point.
However, we committed a number of players forward on Saturday and had more than enough possession to take something from the game. As has been the case under previous managers though, we were paid for missing chances and for not playing the correct final ball, with Norwich taking full advantage of the amount of space we left at the back to put us to the sword.
The return from injury of Shane Long was one of the few bright spots of the game, with the Republic of Ireland international scoring our equaliser from the penalty spot with pretty much his first touch after replacing Peter Odemwingie.
This weekend sees us travel to Stoke City, a side who we have an absolutely abysmal record against in recent years.
Most Albion fans would have this down as a defeat, and our recent run of form in the Premier League has done nothing to generate much optimism among supporters making the short journey to the Britannia Stadium.
One positive bit of news which could give Albion fans reason for optimism is that Jonas Olsson could be returning from injury for Saturday’s game, as he took part in full training with the rest of the players on Tuesday.
Although Craig Dawson has performed very well alongside Gareth McAuley since Olsson picked up his injury, the Swedish central defender has missed three games and we have lost all three of them. This adds evidence to statistics published last season which show that our win percentage decreases significantly when Olsson is unavailable.
Saturday’s game will be a big test of our players and of the defensive work which Hodgson seems to prioritise, so hopefully we will produce a good performance and come away with a positive result!
Can Albion finally beat Stoke and return to winning ways? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.