Sam Allardyce’s chances of keeping West Brom in the Premier League took a turn for the worst earlier this week after the Baggies were beaten by rock-bottom Sheffield United.
It leaves them ten points adrift of safety with crucial games against Spurs, Manchester United, Burnley and Brighton on the horizon.
Albion have brought in five new names this transfer window, though their two deadline day additions – Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Okay Yokuslu – are yet to feature.
“When you have decided to attack the situation by bringing new players in – if I didn’t think there was a chance (of survival) I wouldn’t have pushed as hard as I did to get those players in,” revealed Big Sam in the wake of Tuesday’s defeat.
So how will the pair of them fit in? They’re both in line to make an instant impact against Spurs…
On the Chalkboard
Both arrivals hit towards Allardyce sticking with a three-at-the-back formation as it would allow Yokuslu to be deployed in a defensive midfield role at the base of the engine room, whilst the versatile Arsenal star can act as the right wing-back.
It does, however, mean there are some big calls to make over the like of Jake Livermore, Romaine Sawyers and Grady Diangana.
The Baggies have a plethora of central defensive options, so it makes sense for Allardyce to want to utilse such a formation, and he has done before when saving Sunderland from the brink of relegation.
It means we could see Dara O’Shea, Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi in front of Sam Johnstone with Conor Townsend and Maitland-Niles on the two flanks.
As already mentioned, we’re likely to see Yokuslu come straight in as a defensive midfielder as that’s a position Big Sam was desperate to secure in the window.
It does, however, likely mean that two of Slaven Bilic’s long-serving favourites are axed in Romaine Sawyers and Jake Livermore. Both started at least 42 league games last season and have continued to be a presence this term.
The pair rank as the two worst West Brom regulars as per WhoScored ratings, and with a better defensive anchor in place, it could allow Robert Snodgrass and Matheus Pereira some extra freedom further up the pitch.
There’s also a major decision to be had on Grady Diangana because when he’s fit, he’s a shoo-in to start (started all four games under Allardyce prior to injury).
But given the formation tweak, there’s just no place for him in the lineup, meaning he’s likely to have to settle for a role off the bench.
Whilst upfront, we could see a ‘David and Goliath’ partnership of Mbaye Diagne and Karlan Grant.
The likes of Callum Robinson, Matty Phillips and Kieran Gibbs would all also be substitute options.
AND in other news, Missed bargain: Dowling’s WBA call over “fearless” £2m beast looking worse by the week…