Mattheus Pereira has continued his goalscoring and assisting form into the Premier League as he joined West Brom on a permanent deal this summer.
After six top-flight games, the 24-year-old has one goal and two assists. On that face of it, that is not an incredible stat, but as the Baggies have only scored six goals this season it means he has contributed to half of the club’s league goals.
But one question remains over Pereira and an answer could contribute to helping understand why he is brilliant in some games and anonymous in others. What is his best position?
On Monday night he was excellent against Brighton in Albion’s 1-1 draw on the south coast. In this match, he played as a number 10, meaning he was more central and had more freedom to roam across the attacking line.
Here is Pereira’s heatmap from the Brighton game (Wyscout):
As you can see he drifted across the Baggies attack but spent most of his time cutting in from the right, the position he is arguably most used to playing for Albion.
But when he has played out wide this season in the Premier League, he has had much less success. This can be expected when any player makes the jump from the Championship to the Premier League, but it suggests that simply switching Pereira’s position to the number 10 role could give the Brazilian much more freedom to do what he does best.
In Albion’s 0-0 draw with Burnley Pereira played on the right, here is his heatmap from that game:
Burnley are arguably a worse team than Brighton so you can’t make the argument that Pereira was simply up against a better opponent. On this heatmap, it shows Pereira was limited on the right, as he got forward less often and had fewer touches in the opposition penalty box.
The 24-year-old needs to be getting in better positions if he is to contribute to his side like he did last season. It seems like the best way for Slaven Bilic to get the best out of his talented attacker is to play him centrally.
After his performance against Brighton, it will be interesting to see where the Brazilian lines up when West Brom take on Fulham next Monday. Hopefully, Pereira can contribute again and help the Baggies to a first league win of the season.
In other West Brom news, Jake Livermore singled out one Baggies player for praise after the draw against Brighton.