The 3 areas West Brom must improve as Carlos Corberan makes ‘what’s needed’ admission

The Baggies were the architects of their own downfall as they drew 1-1 in a play-off six-pointer with Blackburn Rovers.
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West Brom suffered a devastating play-off blow on Wednesday night when they conceded a late equaliser against Blackburn Rovers on home soil. Before then, the Baggies hadn’t let in a single goal at The Hawthorns since Carlos Corberan’s opening game in charge, when they lost 2-0 to Sheffield United.

Albion have enjoyed a fruitful turnaround since then, thrusting themselves right into the play-off mix. However, last night’s draw saw them complete a run of five games with just one victory.

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Although still in a far more promising position than during Steve Bruce’s reign, the Baggies could be in danger of losing their grip on a potential top six spot if they aren’t to improve over the coming weeks. Here are the three ways we think West Brom can jump-start that good form again.

Cutting out individual errors

It sounds simple, but the goals conceded in the last two games have come via mistakes. Often the case during Bruce’s time at the beginning of the season, Albion have failed to iron these out in recent weeks.

At Birmingham City, the first in the 2-0 defeat came thanks to poor positioning from David Button, who was found wavering on the wrong side of his goal by scorer Hannibal Mejbri. For the second, Button came out to claim a corner but was blocked off and outjumped by midfielder Krystian Bielik, who headed for their second of the game.

Although Albion were caught well below their recent standards in that game, they could still have come away with a draw had they not made those errors. Unfortunately for Corberan and his men, this was yet again apparent in their draw with Blackburn a few days on.

Ben Brereton Diaz scored a late free-kick to date Albion’s play-off hopes.Ben Brereton Diaz scored a late free-kick to date Albion’s play-off hopes.
Ben Brereton Diaz scored a late free-kick to date Albion’s play-off hopes.
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On Wednesday, the Baggies put in a much-improved performance but were found lacking in a defining moment towards the end of the match. They had taken the lead through Jayson Molumby just under 20 minutes from time but squandered their advantage after Ben Brereton-Diaz scored a late free-kick.

Corberan admitted post-match, however, that it was the build-up to the equaliser that was the most disappointing element – rather than the goal itself. “I think we created our own problems,” Corberan told WBATV. “I think we didn’t have any advantage to put the ball into Molumby, it was one action that we didn’t manage well.

“The team wasn’t in that position, so the ball needed to go to the ‘keeper to get that in the right position. Especially to give into a striker like [Daryl] Dike so he can try and find a different way to solve that situation.”

It’s easier said than done, but cutting out these individual errors could be the difference between a chance at the play-offs or another season in the second tier.

Hitting the target

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Albion seem to be lacking in the goalscoring department, it must be said. Despite having a proven Championship goalscorer in Dike and a promising young forward in Brandon Thomas-Asante, they appear to struggle in front of goal.

Brandon Thomas-Asante has five league goals this season. Brandon Thomas-Asante has five league goals this season.
Brandon Thomas-Asante has five league goals this season.

They sit inside the bottom half of the division for shot accuracy, with just 30.6% of their efforts on target to test goalkeepers. This is odd considering Albion sit just third in the league for the total number of shots taken (409).

The Baggies don’t struggle to create high-quality chances and this showed on Wednesday especially. John Swift had an opportunity to score with an acrobatic effort and Molumby hit the post moments before he bagged the opener. Albion must improve when faced with these opportunities.

Corberan’s side have underperformed their Expected Goals (xG) so far this season and will hope to rectify their attacking drought after scoring just twice in their last five games.

Upping the margin of victories

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Was Wednesday night simply a case of Albion’s well-ridden luck coming to an end? They’ve managed 10 league wins under Corberan, with six of them by single-goal margins.

The clash with Blackburn had all the hallmarks of the win over Reading in the first game of 2023, as Albion created plenty of chances during a flurry in the first half, but were somewhat fortunate to escape with a win. The Royals had a couple of clear-cut opportunities to score but didn’t take them.

Carlos Corberan is famous for winning games by just one or two goals, having done so consistently with Huddersfield Town last season.Carlos Corberan is famous for winning games by just one or two goals, having done so consistently with Huddersfield Town last season.
Carlos Corberan is famous for winning games by just one or two goals, having done so consistently with Huddersfield Town last season.

Against Blackburn, the game followed a similar pattern. Corberan’s men managed a flurry of creativity midway through the second half and finally took an advantage, but later in the game found themselves turned over in transition, leading to the equaliser.

Although a late moment of quality from Brereton-Diaz, the Baggies found themselves losing out on those two points thanks to being unable to extend their lead. They must tighten up during those late moments to avoid a repeat of this scenario and show more composure in the box to take chances earlier in the match to avoid similar results.

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