It was a colossal performance that combined bravery with defensive nous and Kyle Bartley may just save West Brom millions in the January transfer market after his Molineux display.
West Brom came into the Black Country Derby with the worst defensive record in the league and this was further extended by the two goals they shipped in the first half which brought their total up to 41 conceded in 18 games.
Their defensive deficiencies were there for all to see in the opening period but they showed vast amounts of resolve and desire for the cause in the second half as Albion mounted a brilliant comeback before seeing the game out to secure an all important victory, just their second in the Premier League this season.
Much of this was down to the brilliant Bartley who churned in an impressive display against the Wolves attack.
The game on Saturday was his first Premier League start since a chastening 5-1 defeat to Crystal Palace on December 6 after suffering an injury that caused him to sit the next five game out as Slaven Bilic was sacked as manager and Sam Allardyce brought in to replace him.
With the Baggies leaking goals for fun in Big Sam’s first five games (15 conceded) it seemed unthinkable that he would not be in the market for an imposing central defender in January.
Indeed, Palace defender Mamadou Sakho was reportedly a top target for Allardyce with the pair having worked together at Selhurst Park, but a combination of his price and a recent injury look like putting paid to those hopes of a reunion.
But perhaps he is not required after all.
WhoScored crowned centre-back partner Semi Ajayi as their star man of the match and who could blame them after the Nigerian international’s crucial equaliser brought the Baggies back into the game, but the defensive discipline of Bartley was equally as important and he was the man who laid on the assist for Ajayi’s header.
Set pieces and balls into the box were known to be Wolves’ achilles heels going into the match and so it proved as Bartley out-muscled the defenders to flick the ball onto Ajayi who made no mistake with his looping finish.
At the other end, though, a number of statistics prove just how vital Bartley was in ensuring Albion kept hold of their lead.
Per WhoScored, only Willy Bolly (80%) won a higher percentage of his aerial duels than Bartley (three out of four – 75%).
Impressively though, no one came close to Bartley’s game-high record of eight clearances and four blocked shots which shows just how much he was determined to put his body on the line secure a vital three points for Albion.
Furthermore, no Wolves player managed to dribble past him while he made zero fouls showing just how disciplined he was.
It was not just in his defensive dealings that Bartley proved his effectiveness for West Brom.
He recorded a pass accuracy of 84%, higher than any other West Brom player with Matheus Pereira (81.3%) the only player to come near this figure as the defender showed his composure on the ball.
We won’t go as far as to say Bartley has cured the defensive damage in the West Brom backline and plugged the leaky gaps, as the two goals they conceded on Saturday proved.
Furthermore it is only one game against a Wolves side shorn of their star striker Raul Jimenez and struggling for goals and form.
But, with money expected to be tight at Albion there are probably more pressing areas for concern.
Romaine Sawyers and Jake Livermore showed slight signs of improvement at Molineux but nowhere near enough to offer any sense of reassurance to Baggies fans and an all-action defensive midfielder is vital to their renewed chances of staying in the Premier League.
A striker is also of paramount importance despite Callum Robinson’s good performance and willingness to run the channels and at defenders, something that resulted in two penalties at Wolves.
With Karlan Grant injured and Charlie Austin offloaded to QPR a recognised forward is a must to offer goals at the top end of the pitch.
It was a sterling display from Bartley and one that might cause a rethink in the January transfer window.
Allardyce and Albion supporters will be hoping for much of the same in the coming weeks.
In other West Brom news, major update in Albion takeover talks.