Ben Foster

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Managerial change a slippery slope for West Brom

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Tony Pulis brought much needed stability to West Bromwich Albion before his tenure soured in a hurry.

When Pulis took over at the Hawthorns, West Brom had seen both Pepe Mel and Alan Irvine do little winning in abbreviated managerial stints. Mel won three of 17 matches in charge, while Irvine could only nab five in 22.

[ MORE: Pulis sacked ]

So there is little debating, even for those who West Brom fans who revel in the club’s former free-flowing ways, that Pulis had a productive time in charge from January 2015 right on through most of last season.

But Pulis was seemingly limited to setting a points total and then kicking his heels up once Premier League safety was reached.

While that sounds a bit laughable, the facts are that the Baggies finished 10th last season despite an impressive start that saw the club comfortably eighth for much of the season. However, West Brom won five points from its final 12 matches to finish 16 points behind a European place (including five shutout losses at home).

The Baggies finished 14th the previous season, Pulis’ first full year in charge, but collapsed again after hitting the rarefied air of 11th. That final stretch? Five losses and four draws including shutout losses at home to Norwich City, Watford, and West Ham.

In doing so, Pulis belied his own budgetary critiques by proving the Baggies had the talent to compete for something relatively special.

Pulis was good at getting his side to play with the fury of a relegation contender from Day One, but it was so clear the side was sated once safety was secure. It wouldn’t be callous to opine that the manager would’ve viewed the Europa League as a nuisance to his “never been relegated” reputation (an idea buttressed by West Brom’s performances in Cup competitions, where Pulis never advanced to a quarterfinal while losing to Reading, Norwich City, Derby County, Northampton Town, and, this season, Man City).

What West Brom does next will say a lot. If it’s as simple as a rehashing of the “never been relegated” deck with Sam Allardyce, well, that’s something. But the Baggies are in the tricky predicament of having to replace a relatively stable hand who was their first good hire in three tries, while also running with the knowledge that their players clearly are capable of so much better than 17th.

The names on the bettor’s lists show what’s expected of West Brom: gritty style from an island manager. Derek McInnes is the favorite, with Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill just ahead of Sam Allardyce. Alan Pardew is next, followed by Ronald Koeman (For what it’s worth, bookies are still milking money from gamblers by including Jurgen Klinsmann’s name at 20:1 or so).

West Brom is in its eighth-straight Premier League campaign. The firing will jostle an already rocking ship, but the Baggies have steady leadership in Jonny Evans, Ben Foster, Chris Brunt, Gareth Barry, Gareth McAuley, and Craig Dawson. They have the wherewithal to achieve safety again, and can even look good in the process should a manager find the right way to use Salomon Rondon, Matty Phillips, Jay Rodriguez, Nacer Chadli, and others.

Who’s the right man for the job?

West Brom 0-4 Chelsea: Clinical Blues punish Pulis

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  • Hazard bags brace
  • Fabregas with two assists
  • Morata, Alonso score
  • WBA winless since August

Alvaro Morata and Eden Hazard assisted each other on a pair of first half goals as Chelsea battered hapless West Bromwich Albion 4-0 at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Hazard added a second, and Marcos Alonso also scored as Chelsea moved second on 25 points.

West Brom sinks 17th with 10 points, and will hit the drop zone if West Ham beats Watford on Sunday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Salomon Rondon headed home within 10 minutes of kickoff, but was offside.

Tiemoue Bakayaoko turned Gareth McAuley off a Cesc Fabegas feed in the 14th minute, and pulled up lame before the corner kick.

Chelsea went ahead through Morata, who was well away from McAuley when he pushed an Hazard rebound past Ben Foster.

Hazard made it 2-0 in the 23rd, taking a deft flick from Morata and dancing around Foster to score into an open goal.

The boo birds were out at the Hawthorns come the 38th minute, as Alonso was unmarked at the back post for a clever finish of Fabregas’ too easy free kick.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Hazard looked to make it 4-0 in the 50th minute with a terrific dribble, but Foster denied him. Fabregas saw yellow for embellishment in a bid to finish the move.

Hazard did supply the fourth after another string-pulling pass from Fabregas and a deft touch allowed him some time to belt a ball past Foster.

Huddersfield 1-0 West Brom: 10-man Terriers dig deep

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  • Rajiv Van la Parra scores stunner
  • Schindler sent off in 57th minute
  • West Brom without a PL win since August

Huddersfield Town secured back-to-back home wins in top-flight for the first time since 1971 as David Wagner‘s men battled to a 1-0 victory against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Rajiv Van La Parra’s goal proved to be the difference for a Terriers side who had Christopher Schindler sent off early in the second half but goalkeeper Jonas Lossl came up big late on to secure all three points.

With the win Huddersfield move on to 15 points for the season and into the top 10, while West Brom are just two points off the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Brom looked dangerous from set pieces early and Ahmed Hegazi almost got on the end of a corner but Huddersfield cleared.

Huddersfield responded well and Aaron Mooy‘s corner reached the back post but Christopher Schindler’s effort was off target.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Tom Ince then forced Ben Foster into a save with a low effort as the Terriers continued to press. From another Mooy corner the ball dropped to Ince but he smashed his shot over the bar under pressure from Kieran Gibbs.

Just before half time a magical moment arrived as Van La Parra picked up the ball 30 yards from goal, then sent a dipping, curling effort into the top corner to send the John Smith’s Stadium wild.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Huddersfield were dealt a huge blow in the second half as Schnidler was shown a second yellow card (his first yellow came in the first half for blocking off Hal Robson-Kanu) for a reckless tackle on Hegazi. The Terries were down to 10-men for the final 35 minutes.

The home side handled the challenge of going down to 10-men well but West Brom sent on plenty of attackers to try and grab a point. Salomon Rondon flicked a header just wide of the near post as Huddersfield had to batten down the hatches late on.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

There were some tough moments for Huddersfield late on with goalkeeper Lossl coming up with several big saves as the Terriers fans, as always, created a great atmosphere to help drag their team through.

What a gutsy win from the newly-promoted team.

West Brom 2-3 Man City: Visitors strengthen table lead

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  • City restores five-point table lead
  • Concedes twice for just second time
  • Baggies winless since August

Fernandinho had a goal and an assist as Manchester City handled West Bromwich Albion at the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane also scored in the 3-1 triumph, which raises their audacious goal differential to 29 on the season.

Jay Rodriguez briefly gave West Brom a first half equalizer, but the Baggies finish the day two points above the drop zone in 15th.

Matty Phillips scored in stoppage time to round out the scoring, and the score line would’ve been much worse for the Baggies were it not for goalkeeper Ben Foster.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

West Brom’s high press plans were diffused by City in the early stages, and the purple-clad visitors danced up the pitch into the Baggies’ sardine 18.

Sane laced a left-footed shot past a helpless Ben Foster after Fernandinho found him inside the box. 1-0.

But the can would be repacked after an Ederson error allowed Rodriguez the space to level the score in the 13th minute.

Fernandinho restored order when his 25-yard shot took a turn off a Gareth Barry‘s indecisive block attempt and wrong-footed Foster. 2-1.

Kyle Walker cued up Sterling for a 65th minute insurance goal. While City wasn’t at its best in the second half, the marker did have an air of inevitability.

Phillips made it 3-2 in stoppage time off a back pass error from Nicolas Otamendi.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Follow @NicholasMendola

Southampton 1-0 West Brom: Amazing Boufal goal leads Saints

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  • Boufal’s solo goal wins it
  • Saints outshoot WBA 20-7
  • WBA winless since August

Sofiane Boufal‘s magnificent goal off the bench helped Southampton break down West Bromwich Albion for a 1-0 win at St. Mary’s on Saturday.

Saints go 10th with the win, on 12 points, while West Brom drops to 13th. The Baggies’ 10 points are two clear of the drop zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Ryan Bertrand cranked a deflected free kick off the bar in the 18th minute, as Saints had plenty of possession.

Manolo Gabbiadini dribbled 50-plus yards before cuing up Shane Long for a shot pushed wide of the near post.

There were a pair of handball shouts in the box at either end, with Salomon Rondon and Dusan Tadic both lucky to escape the view of officials.

Ben Foster made a terrific slap save on Maya Yoshida‘s headed corner as the match neared halftime, and Yoshida missed the far post with an overhead kick off the ensuing effort.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Both teams looked fairly content with a point in the early stages of the second half, Kieran Gibbs‘ header a rare bit of action for Saints backstop Fraser Forster.

The 72nd minute saw a probable but uncalled penalty to Tadic, who made a magnificent run into the box and saw himself into a tangle with Jonas Lossl.

Maybe that snapped the match to life, and Nacer Chadli cranked a shot off the top pipe.

Saints looked dangerous, and Tony Pulis packed his men in his own end in search of an away point and nothing more.

That backfired when Boufal scored his wonderful solo goal.

Some editorializing, if you’ll allow it: