West Brom midfield nightmare worsens: What next for Carlos Corberan amidst injury crisis?
Head coach Carlos Corberan has a difficult proposition when it comes to juggling his Baggies midfield options.
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West Bromwich Albion are in freefall following an injury crisis that has left Carlos Corberan’s squad decimated in several positions, effectively putting an end to their Championship playoff campaign. One of these is centre midfield, where the Baggies once looked so strong, but they now find themselves with very little to work with.
Albion’s recent run of form has mirrored their squad depth being ripped apart, failing to win any of their last four matches. The Baggies’ struggles began away from home but their issues soon ebbed into their once formidable form at The Hawthorns.
West Brom’s draw against Queens Park Rangers and their defeat to Rotherham United three days earlier has left them 11th in the league, no better of a position than this time last season. And with their midfield crisis worsening, they might struggle to reignite the form that initially propelled them up the league table.
The midfield partnership of Okay Yokuslu and Jayson Molumby was one of the factors that made Albion so formidable. The former sits deep to break up play, allowing the latter to roam freely and cause problems for opposition players looking to progress the ball.
With John Swift just ahead of them, it was a trio that moved the Baggies up into the playoff reckoning. But now, it seems a whirl of the past for Corberan’s side who are falling down the table at a rapid rate.
Taylor Gardner-Hickman and Nathaniel Chalobah partnered during the Rotherham and QPR disappointments and despite their individual promise, didn’t put in promising showings individually or as a pairing. Their traits should’ve meant they would work quite well as a duo.
However, Chalobah playing in Yokuslu’s role and Gardner-Hickman doing his best to mimic Molumby - they were unable to flourish. Former Fulham, Watford and Chelsea midfielder Chalobah joined the club in January but he hasn’t set the world alight, to say the least.
The 28-year-old didn’t get a grip on the midfield battle against QPR and found himself half a step off the pace when the opposition’s midfield had the ball, especially in transition. Chalobah also received a poor reception from supporters at The Hawthorns as they fell to their second consecutive home draw.
As for Gardner-Hickman, he’s often championed by West Brom fans after coming through the academy and making his breakthrough under former manager Valerien Ismael. The youngster is capable of playing a variety of positions including central midfield, wing-back and full-back.
However, his performance left a lot to be desired, as he misplaced several passes and - like Chalobah - failed to get a grip on possession and the midfield battle itself. The pair’s poor showings meant they were both substituted later in the game.
And there aren’t any other real options to replace them. Molumby came into the side for 15 minutes against QPR after his accelerated return from injury saw him reinstated into the squad. But aside from him, Tom Rogic was the only other option on the bench, and he is unlikely to fit the characteristic of a player needed for these roles.
It’s fair to say the sooner Corberan gets the likes of Yokuslu and Molumby back, the sooner West Brom begin reigniting their form. But, already becoming cut adrift from the top six, the damage done might be too deep for them to resurrect their play-off dreams. Especially after the performances of late.