View: Impressive West Brom PL debutant helped lay foundations for solid draw v Burnley

Branislav Ivanovic made his first Premier League appearance since 2016 when he started for West Brom against Burnley on Monday. 

He helped keep a clean sheet as the Baggies fought for a 0-0 draw with a Burnley side who picked up their first point of the season.

The Champions League winner added a wealth of experience to Albion’s backline and was key in securing a first clean sheet of the season for Slaven Bilic’s men. He was also unlucky not to score as he forced Nick Pope into a smart save to keep the scores level.

The stats show just how good Ivanovic was on his first Premier League outing for the Baggies and they suggest that he could be a key man for Bilic this season.

Firstly, he won 80% of his defensive duels against Burnley, showing that more often than not he was getting the better of the Clarets’ attackers. He also won 60% of his loose ball duels, showing how effective he was at regaining possession for the Albion, as per Wyscout.

Across the 95 minutes he played, Ivanovic also made nine interceptions, which is more than his defensive partner Ahmed Hegazi managed, with the Egyptian registering seven. He also matched Hegazi for clearances, with both managing six.

The above heatmap shows how Ivanovic drifted out to the right-hand side to provide cover for Darnell Furlong. The ex-Chelsea man won the Premier League and Champions League at full-back and he will be able to give Furlong a huge amount of help this season as he sits in behind the 24-year-old as he adjusts to the pace of the English top flight.

Weirdly, the stat where Ivanovic most under-performed on Monday was in his expected goals (Xg). He finished the game with an xG of 0.98 which suggests he should have grabbed himself a goal. He did have one chance to score but Pope did well to save it and Ivanovic couldn’t have done much more.

Hopefully, with Ivanovic in the West Brom defence, Monday’s clean sheet will be the first of many this season. The Serbian showed exactly why he was brought to the Hawthorns this summer and with a run of games in the first team, he will be a crucial asset to the Baggies.

In other West Brom news, Kevin Phillips has delivered his verdict on West Brom’s transfer window.

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