Kieran Gibbs

Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

It’s official: Pardew named new West Brom boss

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Alan Pardew was hired as coach of West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday, securing a return to the Premier League after nearly a year out of management.

The 56-year-old Pardew signed a two-and-a-half-year deal as a replacement for Tony Pulis, who was fired by West Brom’s Chinese owner last week with the team near to the relegation zone.

Pardew inherits a team that is only two points above the bottom three, and is without a win in 13 games in all — 12 of those coming in the league. His first match in charge is on Saturday against Crystal Palace, the club that fired him last December.

“The immediate challenge will be to get the results we need to pull ourselves up the table,” Pardew said. “But I’m aware that while I’m joining one of the great, traditional clubs of English football, it is one determined to go forward in the Premier League.”

Pardew has also coached Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham, Charlton and Reading. West Brom was attracted by his experience of managing in the Premier League.

“Alan brings the experience of more than 300 Premier League games,” West Brom chairman John Williams said, “and the kind of dynamic leadership from which our club can benefit.”

Pardew was voted as the Premier League’s manager of the year in 2012 for guiding Newcastle to a fifth-place finish, but fell out of favor with the club’s fans and left for Palace in December 2014.

Again, he made a good start at a new club, lifting Palace out of the relegation zone and into the top half by the end of that season, but the south London team won only six of 36 games in 2016 and Pardew was fired before the year was over. He has since done some TV work.

While his immediate task will be to keep West Brom in the lucrative Premier League, he may also need to introduce a more positive brand of soccer. West Brom fans grew tired of Pulis’ pragmatic and direct approach, wanting more than just survival in the top flight but some entertainment, too.

The club from central England came under new ownership last year, with Chinese businessman Lai Guochuan becoming the majority shareholder. Backed by Lai, West Brom spent $40 million in the summer and enriched the squad with players like Poland midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak from Paris Saint-Germain, left back Kieran Gibbs from Arsenal, and winger Oliver Burke from Leipzig.

West Brom has possibly got its strongest squad in decades, and Pardew needs to get more out of it than Pulis.

Gary Megson, who took charge of the team on an interim basis following the departure of Pulis, has left the club, He guided West Brom to two draws, at Tottenham on Saturday and at home against Newcastle on Tuesday.

Newcastle rallies to draw West Brom 2-2

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  • Baggies take 2-0 lead
  • Field scores first PL goal
  • Magpies score off two set pieces

A late West Brom own goal helped Newcastle United come back from a two-goal hole to draw 2-2 at the Hawthorns on Tuesday

Ciaran Clark scored Newcastle’s other goal after Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Field staked the Baggies to a 2-0 lead.

The draw keeps West Brom winless since August, but it pulls the Baggies above Everton and into 16th place. Newcastle is three points and four places higher.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

A sleepy start to the match was brought to life when Salomon Rondon had a go from 30 yards that bounced off the top of the cross bar.

That unfortunately was not a harbinger of what was the come, and the match crawled through the first half hour.

Isaac Hayden recorded a rare shot on target for Newcastle when Ben Foster collected a bounding 35th minute shot through traffic.

Newcastle keeper Karl Darlow rescued a looping header from Hal Robson-Kanu from the goal line.

Robson-Kanu would get his goal before the break, darting in front of Chancel Mbemba to nod Kieran Gibbs‘ cross over the line. The play was started by a fantastic Johnny Evans ball.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Newcastle threatened with an early corner kick, but Ciaran Clark couldn’t turn Matt Ritchie‘s service on frame. A free kick followed, but was poorly executed.

The hosts went up 2-0 in the 56th minute through Field, who raced to the back post to meet typical service from crossing wizard Matty Phillips.

The Magpies tried to answer off a pair of corners, and this time Clark headed Ritchie’s corner home. It was 2-1 in the 59th.

Darlow stopped a Robson-Kanu shot four minutes later. At the other end, Ayoze Perez turned and fired and Foster collected the ball in the 80th.

James McClan fouled DeAndre Yedlin on the edge of the 18 in the 82nd minute after a fine pass from Jonjo Shelvey.

That foul cost the Baggies, as Ritchie’s free kick was backheeled into his own goal off Evans by Rondon.

PL Playback: Pogba the key for Man United

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POGBACK

Paul Pogba‘s snake hips goal celebration had been dearly missed by Manchester United’s fans.

So too had his marauding runs from midfield since he injured his hamstring in early September. Jose Mourinho had previously said United were a totally different team without Pogba and his display in the 4-1 win against Newcastle on Saturday proved it.

Speaking to MUTV after the game, Pogba shared his belief that if all of United’s players stay fit they can challenge Manchester City for the title.

“The season is really long so we have to be fit – not only me but all the players,” Pogba said. “To win the league we need all our players. When you have one injured here, one injured there, it doesn’t help. It’s always better to have a full team. Zlatan’s back and Marcos after a long injury. It was hard for them but they kept believing and worked hard to come back. We need them to win the league and we’re really glad they’re here.”

Even if he didn’t jinx past Newcastle’s defense to clip in a wonderful cross for Anthony Martial to head home United’s first, or then make a 60-yard sprint to get on the end of Marcus Rashford‘s knockdown to make it 3-1, Pogba’s presence was felt.

His return gave United’s entire squad, and fanbase, a lift and everything is set up rather nicely for him to battle it out with Kevin De Bruyne in the Manchester derby on Dec. 10 at Old Trafford.

With Pogba this season United have played five games, winning four and drawing one.

Without Pogba United have played seven, won four, lost twice and drawn once in the Premier League.

His influence on this team is key to the way it has been assembled by Mourinho and his power, all-action displays and strong character get the best out of those around him. Nemanja Matic and Romelu Lukaku tick because Pogba is linking the midfield and attack effortlessly with his energetic displays. Over the past two months there’s been a main reason why Lukaku had done seven games without scoring for United before last weekend: Pogba.

Pogba’s comments about United pushing City for the title if they stay fit appear misguided but if he stays fit then there’s no doubt United are the best version of themselves.


INFURIATING ARSENAL

When they play like they did on Saturday, the only team Arsenal will finish below this season will be Manchester City.

Seriously.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned from the North London derby ]

The Gunners destroyed Tottenham Hotspur with a ruthless display in the first half as Mesut Ozil unlocked Spurs’ midfield and defense, Alexis Sanchez ran them ragged and Alexandre Lacazette played on the last shoulder of Tottenham’s disheveled defense.

Arsene Wenger was rewarded for a bold, attack-minded team selection and with Shkodran Mustafi back fit he now has his first-choice starting lineup at his disposal. If the Gunners stay fit, they can make real charge up the Premier League table in the coming weeks with a bunch of winnable games.

In four of their next five Premier League games they should beat Huddersfield, Southampton, West Ham and Newcastle, with the big tests at home against Man United (Dec. 2) and Liverpool (Dec. 22) showing just how far they’ve come so far this season.

The Emirates, so often the site of protests and fan unrest in previous seasons, is become a fortress for Arsenal who have now won 11 PL games there on the spin, their best-ever run of consecutive wins at the stadium.

Between now and Dec. 22 we will get a very good idea as to what way this season will go for Arsenal.

If Wenger’s players stay fit and he remains positive in his team selection, the Gunners could be rewarded with not only a place back in the top four but much more.


WEST BROM’S GAMBLE

Tony Pulis is the man you want in a relegation battle. So, why did West Bromwich Albion sack him?

A run of two wins in 21 Premier League games sealed Pulis’ fate but what exactly did West Brom’s owners expect would happen?

Pulis’ short-term bump from taking over in January 1 2015 wore off midway through last season and his methods, although lauded by many for preserving his proud record of never being relegation from the Premier League, wear players down over time. Even the wily old crew he had assembled at West Brom (they had the oldest average starting XI in the PL) couldn’t cope with it anymore.

[ MORE: Baggies sack Tony Pulis. but what next? ]

The old adage “losing the dressing room” is frowned upon by folks in the industry but it is clear that’s what happened here. Players believe they are better than perhaps they are, most of the time, and get sick and tired of being told to just clip the ball long, stay compact and try to score from set pieces. Most of Pulis’ training session focus on team shape and denying the opposition the ball. Having the ball is an afterthought. That’s too much for some to handle day in, day out.

And we all know, despite the Baggies being a solid midtable club for seven years in the PL now, that getting rid of one manager is much easier than a squad of players.

Getting rid of Pulis was the only available option.

Yet, after a summer where they did some great business to bring in Grzegorz Krychowiak, Kieran Gibbs, Ahmed Hegazi and Jay Rodriguez, things seemed to be on the up. Yet that recruitment and losing the likes of Darren Fletcher caused issues in the squad balance and Pulis all of a sudden had too many newbies on board who either took too much time to get used to his methods or didn’t want to adjust their game to do so.

All in all, West Brom are now left with very few options to replace Pulis other than appointing someone extremely similar to him. Sam Allardyce is from the area (a boyhood Wolves fan, West Brom’s bitter rivals) is the bookmakers favorite and he would seem to be the perfect firefighter against a Premier League relegation battle.

But, like many PL clubs who have sacked their managers so far this season (hello, Everton, Crystal Palace, West Ham) or are contemplating it (Swansea, Southampton and maybe Stoke) the alternatives to their current boss aren’t plentiful. Keeping hold of Pulis was no longer an option West Brom had but, over time, it may seem like the correct one.


Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

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.

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: