Kyle Bartley is proving instrumental in West Brom attempts to drag themselves out of the relegation mire they find themselves in.
After recently triggering a clause in his contract that will see him extend his Hawthorns stay until 2022 [The Athletic], the 29-year-old provided a defensive masterclass against Brighton on Saturday as well as scoring the winner in a crucial 1-0 victory.
Bartley was imperious in the centre of defence without usual partner Semi Ajayi who was suspended for the clash, while he was a nuisance in the Brighton box and bagged the all-important goal while wearing the Albion armband.
But it was a moment spotted by Express and Star reporter Joseph Masi that really rallies home how important he is to Sam Allardyce’s side.
During the second-half Masi detailed on his personal Twitter account: “Very, very interesting. Kyle Bartley shouts at Sammy Lee: “they’ve changed their shape we need some help.” So important players speak out like that…”
How refreshing it is to hear an Albion player take charge this season and show some all-important leadership skills as well as tactical knowledge.
Jake Livermore is the club captain but he has failed to show any authority this season, either through this general play or by demanding more from his team-mates.
His shocking form during the current campaign has seen him dropped to the bench recently as he has failed to start any of Albion’s last four games, with only a 24-minute cameo against Manchester United to his name.
Is it any surprise to see us go on a three-match unbeaten run for the first time this season?
That is also consecutive clean sheets and we have clearly shored up the midfield with the loan signings of Okay Yokuslu and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Bartley has leadership skills in abundance, and he is backing it up with his talents as well.
According to Wyscout he won 75% of his defensive duels and made six interceptions v Brighton [only Matt Phillips made more with six].
He also made 10 recoveries, slightly higher than his season average of 9.5, a tally only bettered by Yokuslu on the Albion side.
Bartley has not been an ever-present this season with injuries and a matter of preference keeping him out of the side at times, but he is really showing his value now and is one of the first names on the team sheet.
In other West Brom news, Gary Lineker details FIFA talks after Albion controversy.