'Took the Ch'ship by storm' - Steve Madeley names far from 'clearcut' West Brom player of year
The Athletic’s Steve Madeley has named Matheus Pereira as his West Brom star man of 2020, with his efforts in ensuring Premier League promotion playing a pivotal role in his decision.
It has been a tale of two halves for the Baggies in 2020, with the thrills of automatic promotion offset by their recent struggles in the Premier League as the players have struggled to make the step-up in quality, with Slaven Bilic’s sacking as manager a clear reflection of their problems.
However, The Athletic’s West Brom reporter Madeley has reflected on the whole calendar year, and has picked out some moments to remember for Baggies fans.
In his West Brom review of the year, Madeley reflects on Pereira’s impressive displays, saying, “The Brazilian’s best form for Albion came in 2019 when he took the Championship by storm in his first half-season in English football, so his nomination this year was not as clear-cut.
“Yet he still produced some standout displays in the second half of the Championship season, helping his side to stylish wins at Millwall, Reading and Bristol City before lockdown and scoring twice in a vital win at Sheffield Wednesday after the restart.
“Pereira has already shown glimpses of his quality in the Premier League, although his role under new boss Sam Allardyce is yet to become clear.”
Pereira’s important return
He was an integral member of the side that finished second in the Championship to secure automatic passage into the Premier League, but his role in Sam Allardyce’s new outfit has yet to be established.
After being sent-off in West Brom’s 5-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on December 6, Pereira commenced a three-match ban, the last of which was Allardyce’s first game in charge since replacing Slaven Bilic at the Hawthorns.
Many expected Pereira to slot straight back into the side for the trip to Anfield to face league leaders Liverpool on December 27, but he was restricted to a substitute appearance, and the same was true two days later when he came off the bench in the 5-0 thrashing handed to the Baggies by Leeds United.
One would assume it is only a matter of time before Pereira forces his way back into the side and reassumes his role as Albion’s creative outlet, particularly given the struggles of Grady Diangana this term, who is likely to make way for him.
Pereira leads the way (per fbref) for Goal-Creating Actions per 90 for West Brom, with 0.65. Matt Phillips is his nearest challenger with just 0.16, showing the Brazilian’s importance to the side and their struggles to create without him.
With just one goal scored in Allardyce’s first three games in charge, and just ten shots combined, the shot-shy Baggies are in desperate need for an-inform Pereira.
If he can replicate a fraction of his terrific Championship displays last season, then Allardyce and his West Brom side will be in with a fighting chance of Premier League survival come the end of the season.
In other West Brom news, double fitness boost for Arsenal ahead of Baggies clash.