Chris Sutton has claimed that West Brom are in for a “significant scrap” in the Premier League this season.
The Baggies lost 3-0 to Leicester City upon their return to the top flight over the weekend, and already find themselves at the foot of the table.
Slaven Bilic chose to employ a five-man defence in that game – a notable departure from the usual back four he preferred in the Championship last season.
And as well as questioning that decision, Sutton is concerned about how Albion will manage over the course of a full Premier League campaign.
Writing in a column for the Daily Mail, he said: “Slaven Bilic’s formation of choice in the Championship was 4-2-3-1, but on Sunday he opted for 5-4-1. It didn’t work.
“I have a friend who supports West Brom and asked him recently what it will take for them to survive.
“‘Pray,’ he said.
“These players have a significant scrap on their hands.”
Sunday’s clash against the Foxes wasn’t the start to life in the Premier League we were all hoping for.
To lose 3-0 was a jarring blow, and to do so by conceding two penalties was doubly frustrating.
That being said, it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
For the first 20 minutes or so, you could certainly argue that the Baggies were the better team.
In fact, as this graph from Wyscout illustrates, Albion also dominated the ball in the 15 minutes or so after they conceded the first goal.
If Bilic can find a way of prolonging those periods of pressure, and of getting Matheus Pereira and Grady Diangana on the ball more often and in more advanced positions, there’s no reason to believe that we don’t have a fighting chance this term.
In other West Brom news, three players could earn their Albion debuts against Harrogate this week.