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West Brom player ratings v Swansea as Albion are embarrassed again

West Brom’s season plunged to new depths on Monday night as they turned in another harrowing display and, as a result, were turned over again by Swansea City.

Boos rung around The Hawthorns again after late goals from Joel Piroe and Cyrus Christie settled the scores and inflicted the latest defeat on a group of players who were rightly and heavily criticized by an increasingly dwindling Hawthorns crowd.

These are dark days indeed for Albion, and the challenge for new boss Steve Bruce – who has now lost four of his five games in charge – is mounting by the week.

Albion’s first couple of minutes brought about a couple of corners and promised a bright start. Mind you, the workings of those corners were especially poor, so that early optimism subsided pretty quickly.

Then Swansea, who like to get on the ball and quite clearly have ability in possession across the pitch, began to dictate the pace of the half. Michael Obafemi through the middle and Jamie Paterson out wide both looked particularly threatening with pace and trickery, but the Swans’ momentum – as would explain their league position – too often fell apart in the final third.

One rare foray for Albion actually prompted the first notable moment of action, around 20 minutes in. Grady Diangana, comfortably the most exciting player on the pitch in the first half, laid on a plate a perfectly paced ball for the overlapping Dara O’Shea to latch onto, and his first time cross was turned onto the post by Callum Robinson.

O’Shea was exposed on the right, though, on more than one occasion. It’s where Middlesbrough won the game last Tuesday, and Swansea targeted that area, switching play quickly and frequently.

Diangana remained Albion’s only shining light on what was a dreamy evening. Kyle Naughton, the victim of his skill back in December 2019 when the Baggies murdered the same opponent 5-1, was on the receiving end here once again. It was a rare glimpse of a player who produced such moments at the height of his powers.

The final ball, though, remained Diangana’s, and Albion’s problem. Andy Carroll was utterly snuffed out, while the closest Diangana came was when he turned behind a low Robinson cross to the near post. At the other, captain Matt Grimes curled wide from distance and Christie’s header forced Sam Johnstone to punch behind.

The second half was a bit of a non event, in truth, until the final 15 minutes. There were two obvious openings for Robinson and Obafemi at either end. Robinson turned his second shot onto the post, while Obafemi nodded over after dissecting Ajayi and Bartley in the penalty area.

The telling moment arrived with a little over ten minutes left. Albion surrendered the ball to the fresh legs of Olivier Ntcham, and he burst away from young Quevin Castro’s challenge on the left. Ntcham squared the ball to Piroe, who did the rest.

“You’re not fit to wear the shirt,” ung around The Hawthorns before the end, when Christie hammered the ball home, unmarked, at the back post. For the second time in the evening, Johnstone failed to cover himself in glory.

A bottom half finish – unthinkable at the beginning of the campaign – awaits Albion on this evidence, and that of what we’ve seen in recent weeks either side of Valerien Ismael’s sacking.

johnston 3

Kicking was wayward in the first half, but he was on hand to punch behind a powerful header at the back post from Christie as Swansea applied pressure in the first half. Should’ve done better with Piroe’s opener.

O’Shea 3

A forgettable half for O’Shea, in general. Yes, he’s just back from injury and is not playing in his favored position, so there is a little mitigation, but his positioning and distribution – bar one excellent cross for Robinson’s header onto the post – left a lot to be desired.

ajayi 4

Mopped up in the first half when Swansea applied pressure, but he was undone with poor positioning in the second half. Obafemi should’ve done better when escaping him and then Ntcham made a mockery of him when teeing up Piroe.

bartley 3

Quite simply not a good night when you’re a center half who is on the receiving end of a two-goal defeat. Worryingly for Albion, Bartley, with Ajayi, Furlong and Townsend (the regulars in the promotion winning season) look shadows of their former selves.

townsend 3

Was skinned constantly in the first half down his left hand side. He was beaten too easily when Piroe hit the post and then he was caught out of position when Christie added the gloss for Swansea late on.

molumby 3

The delivery of his set pieces was pretty woeful throughout. Plugged away but his deliveries and simple passes from open play were lacking the sufficient quality all too often.

mowatt 2

So passive, and so easy to play against for a possession based team like Swansea who have decent midfield ball players like captain Matt Grimes. Another player whose form has fallen off a cliff, akin to Albion’s in general, in recent months.

reach 3

Another who is totally bereft of confidence and in desperate need of a pick me up, but simple passes from Reach, which should be doable regardless of form, were all over the place. Hooked in the second half.

Diangana 6*

Albion’s only bright spark in the first half. Provided some magic in possession, but it was at an arm’s length by Swansea, and though his defensive duties were relatively good, his final ball was lacking.

Robinson 5

The only player who, on the face of it, looked likely to score tonight. Hit the post twice, though he should’ve converted at least one of those chances.

carroll 4

As poor as he’s been since joining the club. Totally cut off from the rest of the side,

substitutes

Furlong (for O’Shea 45) 4

Fared no better than O’Shea, though he did cover and clear one Obafemi half chance.

Castro (for Reach 65)

Grant (for Molumby 77)

Substitutes not used: Button, Gardner-Hickman, Kipre, Clarke

Swansea City: Fisher; Cabango, Naughton, Manning; Christie, Downes, Grimes, Wolf; Paterson (Ntcham 77); Piroe (Joseph 90), Obafemi (Smith 83)

Substitutes not used: Hamer, Burns, Latibeaudiere, Fulton

GOALS

Albion – ; Swansea City – Piroe 79, Christie 84

The referee: Dean Whitestone

Up next: Hull City (A) – Saturday 5 March, 3pm kick off

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