West Brom v Derby: Albion must find a way to beat the blockers

They created plenty of chances in the first four games of the season – but Albion haven’t had the same cutting edge in their last two Championship outings.

Conor Townsend of West Bromwich Albion. (Photo: WBA)
Conor Townsend of West Bromwich Albion. (Photo: WBA)

That is largely down to their opponents coming up with a plan to nullify their high- pressing game.

And now – as they prepare to face Derby tonight – they have to prove they can mix things up and find another way.

In the opening four games of the campaign, Bournemouth, Luton, Sheffield United and Blackburn all had spells where they tried to play.

And when they did, they couldn’t live with Albion’s intensity – with Valerien Ismael’s side creating numerous chances by pressing and winning the ball high.

In the Baggies’ last two outings against Peterborough and Millwall, though, the opportunity to press simply hasn’t been there.

Both teams decided instead of inviting pressure, they would go long the first chance they got. And the truth is that significantly weakened Albion’s attacking threat.

The Baggies got away with it at London Road thanks to a 94th- minute winner from Semi Ajayi.

But they weren’t so lucky against Millwall and had to settle for a point.

Now they face Derby tonight and defender Conor Townsend knows they are going to have to start showing a different side to their game.

“I think, to be fair, it’s the way other teams are setting up,” the wing-back said when asked why Albion have created less chances in their last two outings.

“They have given us a bit more respect and they haven’t wanted to play out from the back.

“The first four games teams were playing and trying to beat our press – and the press was working brilliantly. But Peterborough straight away went long and Millwall were the same.

“It’s a puzzle we need to work out going forward. Not every team is going to want to come and play. Some are going to sit off.

“We have to work out what we can do to break them down.”

Townsend is in no doubt Albion have the quality in their team to break down any Championship side – no matter how they set up.

“We know there is a lot more to come from us,” the 28-year-old continued. “It is a difficult league and we are going to have to dig in at times.

“Everything isn’t going to be plain sailing. But we are not are not a single pronged attack.

“We are going to have to adapt to different teams.

“Some teams are going to come and play and we can press and some teams are going to sit off and we are going to have more of the ball.

“That is for us to work on, definitely. But we have got good players in the team, we have got the ability to do both sides of the game.

“If we win the next two games, seven points out the week is not a bad return. That’s got to be the aim for us, that is our target for the next two games.”

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