Three key problem areas Carlos Corberan should look to solve following Millwall stalemate
West Brom suffered an underwhelming draw against Millwall last weekend, and Carlos Corberan will look for improvement ahead of Rotherham United.
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West Brom’s disappointing draw with Millwall at The Hawthorns left many fans resigned to missing out on the playoffs for the second consecutive season. It was a must-win game for the Baggies, who could’ve gone level on points with the Lions if they were to pick up victory.
Yet in the stalemate, despite some debatable refereeing calls, some key problems emerged for Carlos Corberan to fix. They face Rotherham United on Friday afternoon, looking to put to bed a run of six away matches without a win - but they’ll have to put these issues to bed to do that.
West Bromwich Albion’s ability to create goalscoring opportunities has deteriorated over recent weeks, particularly against Millwall - only managing a single shot on target against the Lions. Despite this, they did get into some goalscoring areas, amassing 1.51 Expected Goals (xG) during Saturday’s game.
Their main creative threats proved to be fairly silenced throughout, despite attacking midfielder John Swift managing eight passes into the final third during the draws. Winger Jed Wallace suffered with ‘boo boys’ in the away end whilst facing his former club, but failed to silence them managing just two accurate crosses during the 90 minutes.
Forward Brandon Thomas-Asante ran riot as he usually does, causing a physical proposition for the opposition back-line. However, the former Salford City and MK Dons man struggled to make an impact on the ball and didn’t have a shot on target in two attempts.
Thomas-Asante became paired with Daryl Dike later in the game, which gave Albion more of a focal point to play into, and is a prospect that Corberan could consider in future weeks, especially with their injury issues. Dike almost made an immediate impact as he touched the ball around goalkeeper George Long and was brought down only to be deemed offside.
In future weeks, the Baggies must reconsider their attacking combinations to create more scoring chances for their forwards.
Despite Nathaniel Chalobah’s improved performance on Saturday, Albion still missed the tenacious midfield energy of Republic of Ireland man Jayson Molumby. The midfielder has been ruled out for up to four weeks with a groin injury sustained during a starring performance against France during the international break.
However, despite his absence Corberan could have a ready-made Molumby replacement in Taylor Gardner-Hickman who could aid the Baggies’ side with the wide overlaps the Irishman had given the in recent weeks. The 21-year-old has seen little game time since the Spaniard’s takeover but could come into the side to cover the injury problems they have.
The midfielder played 16 minutes against the Lions and came into the midfield instead of Chalobah, completing all 10 of his passes as the game began to ebb away. He also created a single chance in those few minutes on the field.
Could Gardner-Hickman prevent Corberan from suffering this Molumby-shaped blow to his squad?
Albion looked ponderous against Millwall, exactly the type of side Gary Rowett’s men would’ve liked to have come up against. On the ball, they tried to get advancing right-back Darnell Furlong forward to create overlaps - but the Lions’ deep defensive structure meant they struggled to break through.
They managed 60% of the ball, to Millwall’s 40%. And in terms of their positional attacks, just a third of them resulted in a shot.
With there not being enough openness in the game due to both sides’ compact defensive structure, Albion struggled to ignite their fluid counterattacks seen earlier in Corberan’s reign. Due to this, the Baggies looked slow and ponderous without creating very many chances.
Once again that creative conviction remains to be lacking. And especially away from home against Rotherham they need to capitalise on these errors.