Gareth Barry

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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 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

West Brom 2-2 Watford: Hornets seal dramatic comeback

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  • Rondon, Evans put WBA 2-0 up
  • Doucoure pulled one back for Watford
  • Richarlison scores in stoppage time

West Brom and Watford played out a topsy-turvy 2-2 draw at the Hawthorns on Saturday as the Hornets fought back from going 2-0 down early on.

The Baggies led 2-0 thanks to goals from Salomon Rondon and Jonny Evans in the first half and were cruising, but Abdoulaye Doucoure made it 2-1 before the break and Richarlison headed home in stoppage time to make it 2-2.

With the battling draw Watford stay unbeaten away from home this season, while West Brom have now gone five games without a win.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Watford dominated plenty of the ball early on but went 1-0 down with less than 20 minutes on the clock.

Grzegorz Krychowiak played in Rondon and he finished well at the near post to give the Baggies the lead.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Soon after it was 2-0 as Evans headed home at the back post after a dangerous Kieran Gibbs cross was cleared for a corner. The Baggies were flying.

Watford missed a great chance as Andre Carrillo headed over Richarlison’s powerful shot across goal but soon the Hornets were back in the game. Richarlison broke free and slotted in Doucoure who calmly finished across goal past Ben Foster.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Buoyed by their goal just before the break, Watford almost equalized early in the second half as  Etienne Capoue‘s shot from the edge of the box deflected off Gareth Barry and flew wide.

Watford continued to do most of the pressing as Richarlison nodded wide but West Brom’s resolute defense held firm to clinch all three points.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

James McClean had a shot blocked as the Baggies almost put the game to bed. And nobody sees out a tight, tense victory quite like a Tony Pulis team…

Or so we thought.

In stoppage time, and with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes up for a free kick, Richarlison popped up to grab a dramatic point for the Hornets as they remain unbeaten in four away games to start the season.

Stream Live: Arsenal host West Brom

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Arsenal welcome West Bromwich Albion at the Emirates Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Gunners aim to close the gap on the top four.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Wenger will be hoping his side can build on their good performance at Chelsea last time out as they drew 0-0 but had the better of the play, while Tony Pulis‘ men were also involved in a hard-fought goalless draw against West Ham in their last encounter.

In team news Arsenal bring Alexis Sanchez back into the starting lineup but Mesut Ozil is only on the bench, while West Brom start Gareth Barry, who is making his record-breaking 633rd Premier League appearance, and make the former Aston Villa, Man City and Everton midfielder captain.

LINEUPS

Arsenal: Cech; Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Bellerin, Xhaka, Elneny, Kolasinac; Ramsey, Sanchez; Lacazette. Subs: Opsina, Mertesacker, Wilshere, Walcott, Matiland-Niles, Ozil, Giroud,

West Brom: Foster; Evans, Dawson, Hegazi; Nyom, Livermore, Barry, Krychowiak, Gibbs; Robson-Kanu, Rodriguez. Subs: Myhill, Yacob, Morrison, Rondon, Phillips, Brunt, McClean

Notable stats from the Premier League weekend — Week 5

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What numbers jump out following another entertaining in the Premier League? We culled the web, with help from Opta, to find out.

[ PL PLAYBACK: Everton, Koeman under fire ]

The first one is… bonkers.


— 9 — Newcastle United‘s nine point total through five matches is the best start to a season by a promoted team in the Premier League era.

— 15-0 — The combined score lines of Manchester City‘s last three contests, wins over Liverpool (5-0), Feyenoord (4-0), and Watford (6-0). The last two have come away from the Etihad Stadium.

— 0 — Crystal Palace‘s goalless start to the season marks the first time in league history that a team has gone this far into a season without a goal.

— 80′ — To Manchester United… take it away, JPW:

— 11 — Everton‘s run of away Premier League matches without a win has reached a PL-high 11.

— 5 — Chelsea has had five players sent off in eight matches this year.

— 632 — West Brom midfielder Gareth Barry joins Ryan Giggs in the record book for most appearances in the Premier League…

— 600 — … and becomes the first PL player to make 600 starts.