West Brom and Fulham played out a 0-0 draw in the race for promotion to the Premier League. Both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, although with very different approaches in the opening stages, as West Brom sat back and Fulham dominated possession in the first-half. The second-half was more open and both teams came close to opening the scoring, with Anthony Knockaert hitting the crossbar for Fulham and Marek Rodak making a great save to deny Grady Diangana from inside the box.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Age: 24
- Date of birth: 05/05/1996
- Club: West Brom, on loan from Sporting CP
- Career: Sporting CP, GD Chaves (L), 1. FC Nürnberg (L), West Bromwich Albion (L)
- Position: Attacking Midfield
- Secondary position: Right Wing
- Preferred foot: Left
Pereira was kept quiet early on as West Brom struggled to get on the ball but grew in influence as the game developed and was central to most of his teams success in the final third. The attacks flowed through him and he was able to create chances from a variety of different positions in and around the box as well as getting into a few good shooting positions himself.
He is very effective at finding pockets of space in between the lines, drifting away from his marker and operating well in tight spaces to get the ball out of his feet and bring others into play. He didn’t try to do too much or overplay but made good decisions when on the ball, staying calm under pressure to retain possession and find a teammate in space. His movement off the ball allowed him to receive passes in dangerous positions where he was able to a create a number of great chances.
He varied his attacking runs between running beyond the striker in behind the defence and pulling out wide to get into crossing positions. His delivery was consistently dangerous, whipping corners in with pace onto the penalty spot or playing low crosses across the face of goal that just needed a touch from the attacker to be converted. When running in behind he was able to use a good burst of pace to drag the defender out of position and create space centrally for a teammate to run into.
There were a couple of key moments where he lacked composure slightly, with the final pass or shot just lacking from a promising position. He didn’t travel too much with the ball at his feet but showed impressive strength to hold off opponents and good skill to evade challenges. He drew a lot of fouls by using his body intelligently to get between the defender and the ball but was overly theatrical at times in trying to rile opposition.
Rating – A1
Pereira’s loan at West Brom should be made permanent at the end of the season and that could well mean playing Premier League football. He looks ready for the next step and the Premier League would be a real test of his qualities at a higher level.
- Nationality: English
- Age: 22
- Date of birth: 19/04/1998
- Club: West Brom, on loan from West Ham
- Career: West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion (L)
- Position: Right Wing
- Secondary position: Left Wing
- Preferred foot: Left
Diangana impressed in this match, causing problems throughout with his direct dribbling and unpredictability. He started on the right and was effective when cutting inside onto his left and looking to get shots on goal from outside the box. He moved over to the left for the second-half and provided a good wide outlet, able to take his opponent on down the outside or come inside to link the play in central areas.
He is dynamic with the ball at the feet and uses this ability to move past opponents and evade pressure, travelling at high speed and keeping his balance impressively well. He almost slaloms past challenges and his quick movements are very difficult to stop without committing a foul. His final ball was lacking at times and he should have scored from inside the box but he was a constant threat to the Fulham back four.
He worked well with O’Shea down the right in the first-half, dropping back when O’Shea made overlapping runs to provide defensive cover which was important in allowing West Brom to maintain their shape and avoid counter attacks.
Rating – A2
Diangana has already played and impressed in small bursts at Premier League level. Whether he is good enough to start regularly for West Ham remains to be seen but he would definitely be a good squad player with room for development.
- Nationality: Irish
- Age: 21
- Date of birth: 04/03/1999
- Club: West Brom
- Career: West Bromwich Albion, Hereford FC (L), Exeter City (L)
- Position: Right Back
- Secondary position: Centre Back
- Preferred foot: Right
O’Shea played well from right back, providing some much needed attacking impetus with overlapping runs from deep to get into good crossing positions. He had mixed success from these areas, with a mishit cross inadvertently turning into a shot that almost caught out Rodak at the near post.
On the ball he could be calmer and more composed and he would benefit from taking a touch and giving himself more time to assess his passing options. His passing ability was quite limited and he struggled to execute more difficult progressive passes through congested areas of the pitch.
He dealt very well with Ivan Cavaleiro defensively in the first-half before he was forced off through injury. He held his wide position well to stop Fulham playing long diagonals and marked him tightly to limit his ability to get on the ball and influence the game.
However, where he impressed with his ability to stop the opponent receiving the ball, he was not as effective with the opponent already in possession. When Neeskens Kebano came on in Cavaleiro’s place he faced a slightly different problem, now dealing with a player that wants to take the defender on and run in behind.
He struggled in these situations, needing to adjust his body position to be side on which would allow him to react quicker rather than back-peddling when the attacker was running at him. As a result, he was quite slow on the turn and looked slightly clumsy in his defensive style when having to sort his feet out to readjust his position.
Rating – B1
O’Shea was a mixed bag in this game, with areas where he impressed and areas that need development both offensively and defensively. Doesn’t look out of place at this level, though, and improving with each game.