Moore has issues at the back due to injury and suspension
WEST Bromwich Albion head to Hull City on Saturday afternoon desperate to respond to their three-match winless streak with a much-needed victory.
Albion have collected just a single point in their last three matches, conceding six times in the process and were on the end of a damaging 4-1 scoreline at home to promotion rivals Derby.
Speaking of promotion, the recent blip in form has by no means cost them ground in their hunt for a top flight return.
Such is the nature of the second tier, and the unpredictable results that are thrown up week on week, Albion – in fifth – remain only four points behind leaders Sheffield United and two points off the automatic promotion spots.
The visit to Hull represents an attractive opportunity to arrest their recent slump; Nigel Adkins’ Tigers sit in the relegation zone having won three of their opening 15 games, albeit they enjoyed victory last time out against Bolton.
Darren Moore, though, will be forced into at least one change when he takes his side to the KCOM Stadium. Centre-back Kyle Bartley will be unavailable for selection after he col- lected his fifth booking of the season in last Saturday’s draw with Blackburn Rovers.
With questions over Ahmed Hegazi’s availability, having missed the last two matches due to a hamstring injury, will Moore be forced into a re-think in formation?
Moore has of course adopted a 3-41-2 formation this term, with mixed results.
Goals have flowed at a prolific rate at both ends, and they’re stats that have led to questions over the Baggies’ ability to maintain their current strikerate.
The new approach of bringing the ball out and beginning attacks from the back has been far from a seamless adaption.
Hegazi, Bartley, Craig Dawson and Tosin Adarabioyo have all looked shaky in possession of the ball and loose with their passing. Opposing teams have smelt blood and pressed high up-field, hoping to win the ball in an area where Albion can be punished.
This was something picked up on by Blackburn boss Tony Mowbray. There was certainly evidence of Frank Lampard’s Rams doing similar days earlier.
With doubts over the fitness of Hegazi and the suspension of Bartley, it could potentially lead to Albion having just two fit senior centre-backs on Saturday. Is it a case of Moore plugging a gap? Or should the lack of options impact the set-up?
If, for argument’s sake, Hegazi doesn’t make it, then there is a significant decision to be made.
With Jack Fitzwater out on loan, Albion might only have two defenders to apply to a three-at-the-back formation.
Should they look to remain with a three, and Matt Phillips and Conor Townsend or Kieran Gibbs take up their regular places on each wing, it’ll lead to a player who has seldom played there previously joining Adarabioyo and Dawson at the back.
Might that be the experience of Gareth Barry, if he pulls through? Or does Tyrone Mears come in?
The alternative would be switching to a four at the back, playing Mears at right-back and then having Townsend as a regular left-back and Phillips as a regular winger.
> Albion manager Darren Moore