Terry Wills looks back on a mixed week for Albion.
Just the result Baggies fans wanted; victory over the old enemy at Villa Park, in the process easing the memory of last season’s double defeats. Make no mistake, we well deserved the win – a fact confirmed by Tim Sherwood himself.
Last week I tipped a Villa win based on Albion’s recent displays but how wrong could I have been? Gone was the dreadful distribution and lack of any purposful attacking prowess, replaced by a positive 100% improvement that saw Solomon Rondon forcing the keeper to pull off a splendid save in the first minute.
The passing was swift and accurate, midfield far more creative and defence looking solid, aided by another top class performance from Jonnie Evans. When Tony Pulis decided that Joleon Lescott was surplus to requirements, like most Baggies fans I thought it was the wrong decision. Not so – Evans is a top class composed centre back who, paired with Gareth McCauley, will make the opposition finding Albion’s defence difficult to penetrate.
Naturally it was the match winning goal from Saido Berahino that captured the news headlines and for sure his bad boy antics were immediately forgotten when he celebrated in traditional style – zero to hero. Now knuckle down and play as we know you can, that’s all the fans ask. Add an improved display from Solomon Rondon (becoming more familiar with Tony Pulis’ preferred strategy) together with Saido and they do give cause for optimism.
So a satisfying win, denying Villa any clear cut chances to the extent that Boaz Myhill didn’t have to make a serious save. On to Norwich and for me not a particularly surprising result. The clean sheet record had to end although I didn’t envisage a comprehensive 3-0 exit from the League Cup.Reasons? Tony Pulis making TEN changes, in effect giving his squad players the opportunity to prove that they were serious contenders for a first team spot. They didn’t and despite a late rally when a goal down and chasing the game they failed to capitalise on the chances created.
But no excuses, Norwich earned their win to leave Albion concentrating on next Monday’s Hawthorns Greed League televised game against Everton. A repeat of the Villa performance would do nicely and for sure Baggies supporters would much rather lose to Norwich than to our Aston neighbours.