Strength in depth key for Albion

Tuesday 22nd October 2013 15:18

Steve Clarke: Built a strong sqaud

Steve Clarke: Built a strong sqaud

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West Brom FanZoner Joe Chapman says Albion boss Steve Clarke has built a squad that has strength in depth.

Once upon a time West Brom would have feared the prospect of the short trip up to the Potteries.

Tony Pulis, Mamady Sidibe and Ricardo Fuller would cause havoc to the Albion defence, bullying their way past the Tony Mowbray-inspired Baggies, whose attractive style of play would have no effect on the Potters.

Nowadays, it's a different story altogether. Albion are unbeaten at the Britannia Stadium in their last four visits, but this most recent trip will have proven the most frustrating for Steve Clarke and his players. Mind you, at least this season's goalless draw didn't attempt to put you to sleep as last year's 0-0 nearly did.

After riding out the early stages of pressure, the Throstles took the initiative and only Asmir Begovic prevented them taking maximum points. Stephane Sessegnon was lively, causing Robert Huth and Ryan Shawcross no end of problems. Behind him, the team of Claudio Yacob and Yossouf Mulumbu succeeded in monitoring Steven N'Zonzi and prevented him from dictating the play.

Marko Arnautovic was impressive, but other than that the visitors quelled all threats posed by their hosts, restricting them to only a handful of opportunities: most notably, a golden Stephen Ireland chance.

The miss (or rather save, as it should be credited) in the last minute when Sessegnon was in on goal after dancing past the Stoke back-line summed our performance up: so close, but so far.

As the team was announced at 2.00pm on Saturday, the bench was just as impressive. Nicolas Anelka, Shane Long, Chris Brunt, James Morrison and the returning Matej Vydra took place in the dugout, while Markus Rosenberg and Goran Popov sat in the stands. Diego Lugano, Graham Dorrans, Scott Sinclair and Ben Foster didn't even make the journey.

The sheer strength in depth is a relief as we enter the winter months. December and January is a notoriously difficult period in our Premier League history, so the investment in squad depth coupled with the under-soil heating at the training ground, allowing us to train outside regardless of weather, could prove vital.

We're now unbeaten in five (a first during Steve Clarke's tenure), have just picked up our third clean sheet of the season and are still yet to lose on the road. The only thing Clarke has to worry about now is keeping the whole squad happy, something that will be difficult on the back of Shane Long's comments today.

As for Liverpool next weekend, we've beaten them in our last three meetings. Anybody for Connect Four?

You can follow Joe on Twitter at @jcwba16 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.



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