West Brom have got one of the worst attacks in the Premier League so far this season and Slaven Bilic needs to remedy this quickly.
With six goals from their opening eight fixtures, only Sheffield United and Burnley have been less prolific. According to expected goals though, the Baggies have the worst attack in the division with just 4.7 xG generated so far (via FBRef).
Given that last season Bilic’s side were such a strong attacking force, the start to this campaign will have been a disappointment to the coach and the supporters.
However, there were signs of life in the second half against Brighton and Hove Albion and that was evident again on Sunday versus Tottenham Hotspur (the less said about Fulham the better).
With Conor Gallagher beginning to acclimatise to life in the Premier League and Filip Krovinovic starting to thrive, Bilic has found a semblance of balance in central midfield. Further forward, the Croatian chose to drop Grady Diangana and with Matheus Pereira ruled out due to a positive COVID-19 test, he brought in Callum Robinson to partner Karlan Grant.
The Republic of Ireland international started the season well, scoring twice against Chelsea and once in the EFL Cup. The arrival of Grant saw him dropped to the bench, but partnered with the Bermudan on Sunday, he provided a constant threat and used his speed effectively to create space for his teammates.
Unfortunately, he tested positive for COVID-19 on international duty and was forced to return to the club. Luckily though, he was asymptomatic and is expected to be cleared to play against United (via Express and Star)
On the pitch for just 67 minutes against Spurs, he completed two dribbles, took two shots and provided three key passes (via WhoScored). With six shot creating actions each, he and Krovinovic were the most creative players for the Baggies (via FBRef).
On the day, the ball kept bouncing off Grant and he struggled to bring Robinson into the game. However, Robinson’s ability to run the channels meant that he was still able to find space and create chances for his teammates.
The 25-year-old’s game is not just about his intelligent running though and he showed good close control and skill to create space for himself. This will be vital against a side like Manchester United, who will look to dominate the ball and push the Baggies back.
With Harry Maguire and Alex Telles likely to start for United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will not want to see his defenders running into space and towards their own goal. In Robinson, Bilic has a willing runner who can help pin his opponents back and then bring teammates into play. Grant is the better goalscorer, but is yet to show his best form at The Hawthorns and does not have the skills to hurt this United side.
Of course, Bilic could opt to play Grant and Robinson together like he did against Spurs, but with Pereira back and Diangana pushing for a start it is likely that he will looks to bring at least one into the side. Whatever he decides to do, Robinson can hurt United and showed against Spurs that he deserves another start.
In other West Brom news, View: Why international break has come at the worst time for West Brom