“The Month That Could Have Been” // West Bromwich Albion – November

It’s that time of the month again where we all sit down and look back at what may have been a terrible or utterly brilliant month for our respective clubs. However, starting this month we welcome two new guest-writers to Team Pitchside; first up it’s Jake Pointon, a fellow Journo’ student who happens to be an avid fan of the Baggies! Take it away Jake…

West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Crystal Palace:

November started off with a routine win for Albion against a struggling Palace side. The game itself was a quiet one, with goals from Saido Berahino and Gareth McAuley providing the only real excitement for the fans.

Berahino’s goal was an impressive finish, and underlined why many think he has a bright future ahead of him. The 20 year-old played out of position on the right wing in this game after coming on as a sub for the injured Billy Jones, and looked a constant threat to the Palace defence along with Stephane Sessegnon.

20 year old Berahino (38) looks a good prospect for the Baggies.

20 year old Berahino (38) looks a good prospect for the Baggies.

After the first goal the defence looked solid – although the struggling opposition offered no real threat, indeed Jerome Thomas was more or less anonymous on his return to The Hawthorns.

McAuley’s header from Brunt’s corner wrapped up the win late on, meaning we started the month off with three points.

Performance Rating: Grade B-; can’t complain really, solid performance against a rubbish team, Crystal Palace are amongst the favourites to go down and you could see why. Definitely Berahino’s best game in the Premier League so far.

Chelsea 2-2 West Bromwich Albion:

We were robbed!

Two goals in eight second-half minutes should have won this game for Albion, but a terrible decision from stand in ref (and Villa fan) Andre Marriner meant that we went home with just one point, instead of a deserved three.

The first half of this game was quiet, with our defence keeping Chelsea at bay until right on half-time when Eto’o pinched the ball off Liam Ridgewell. The left-back’s failure to clear the ball gave Eto’o the chance to poke it in, and the home side had a lead that was probably undeserved up until that point.

However, the second half saw one of our best performances of the season so far; Shane Long in particular was very impressive up front as the lone striker. Long had already given Chelsea a warning as he hit the post from Morgan Amalfitano’s cross, but they didn’t listen and his goal came as he rose above about five Chelsea players to head in after Cech could only push McAuley’s header high up into the air.

Sessegnon then made it 2-1 just after with a scuffed shot that probably should have been saved, but none of West Brom’s fans’ were complaining.

That was until Marriner’s awful decision to award a penalty in injury time when Ramires fell over in the box after Steven Reid looked at him. Hazard scored and that was that.

There was a sense of injustice as a Ramires dive enabled Chelsea to preserve their incredible home record.

There was a sense of injustice as a Ramires dive enabled Chelsea to preserve their incredible home record from the penalty spot.

Performance Rating: Grade A; another very good performance against one of the top clubs. Attacked well when we had the chance to and defended solidly – the few chances the hosts had were well saved by Myhill. Would’ve been a famous win but for that refereeing decision.

West Bromwich Albion 2-2 Aston Villa:

Another 2-2 draw, another game that Albion should have won.

This one started off well enough as Shane Long continued his good form by scoring two great goals – both should be contenders for goal of the month if you ask me. The game should have been over before half-time, but Sessegnon decided not to bring his shooting boots. His miss from a couple of yards out was embarrassing really.

After the break, Villa made a triple substitution, Gabriel Agbonlahor and Andreas Weimann were both very effective and their combined pace caused us a few problems. Karim El Ahmadi scored a good goal, and then Ashley Westwood smashed in the equaliser from 25 yards meaning this local derby finished honours even.

Performance Rating: Grade C+; the two early goals put us off to a great start and we should have won really. I can’t remember seeing such a poor Villa performance in a derby game before, but we didn’t kill them off and we were punished because of that.

Newcastle United 2-1 West Bromwich Albion:

Our final game of the month came against Newcastle, and it was also our first loss.

The first-half was poor; neither side looked particularly bothered really. Myhill gifted Newcastle the lead when he punched the ball high up into the air instead of away from goal, meaning Gouffran couldn’t miss when it dropped onto his head.

The second-half started off better and Chris Brunt gave Tim Krul no chance, as he smashed in the equaliser from a tight angle. Shane Long could have scored just after that to give us the lead, but he kicked the air instead of the ball as it flew past him from a corner. Almost straight after that miss, we were punished. In-form striker Loic Remy nodded the ball down to Moussa Sissoko, and his fellow Frenchman, slammed the ball into the top corner with the outside of his boot – a fantastic goal.

After that, the game just sort of passed us by, and we never really looked like equalising for a second time.

Performance Rating: Grade D; we didn’t really turn up for this one. Newcastle weren’t particularly special either, bar Sissoko’s wonder-goal; the lack of attacking threat was worrying.

Overall Rating: Grade C; on paper you shouldn’t complain too much about a month where we’ve only lost one game, but when you look into it further it could have been a month to remember.Yes, the penalty decision cost us against Chelsea, but that game and the Villa one, showed a worrying trend of playing well but just not picking up all three points – both games should have been wins really.

The Newcastle game is worth forgetting about, it was just “one of them days”. Overall the performances this month were very good, but you don’t get points for playing well; if you did we would be looking at nine points for the month rather than five.

Jake Pointon

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