West Bromwich Albion’s defence

As discussed in the James Morrison post yesterday, West Bromwich Albion have a kind run of fixtures coming up through to Gameweek 11. With their apparent defensive solidity (two clean sheets in two games against non-top four opponents this season; 16 clean sheets in the Premier League last season), the West Brom back line could be a profitable source of clean sheet points over that period. The problem for FPL managers is trying to work out which defender to pick.

The chart below shows the minutes played by West Bromwich Albion’s defenders so far this season and it is clear that only Craig Dawson has been ever-present, despite the season being only four games old.

WBA defence minutes played

Minutes played by West Brom defence 2015/16

Two of these players can be immediately excluded from consideration:

  • Chris Brunt is classified as a midfielder in FPL and therefore receives only one-quarter of the clean sheet points of a defender.
  • Joleon Lescott has moved to Aston Villa.

It is also worth noting that Christian Gamboa replaced a midfielder for his 28-minute substitute appearance.

Looking at the line up for each game helps make sense of the minutes played data, but also throws up an element of doubt.

West Bromwich Albion defence to GW4 2015/16

Dawson has played every match but he was at centre back for the first game, while James Chester, who normally played for Hull at centre back, took his right back berth. Gareth McAuley, meanwhile, has started every game he was fit.

The final sting in the tail is Jonny Evans. The former Manchester United centre back joined West Brom on August 31, after the Stoke game. So the situation looks like this:

  • Brunt (5.3m) looks to have the left back slot nailed down, but isn’t much use to us classified as an FPL midfielder.
  • Five players are vying for starts at centre back: Evans (4.8m),  McAuley (5.0m), Jonas Olsson (4.5m), Dawson (5.0) and Chester (4.9).
  • Three players could be used at right back: Dawson (5.0), Chester (4.9) and Gamboa (4.0).

There will be a question mark hanging over whichever defender you pick. There was no consensus either among West Brom fans on a forum I visited, although the most commonly predicted line up was:

Dawson – McAuley – Evans – Brunt

I suspect they are right. Dawson is probably first choice right back, despite the Gameweek 1 shuffle, and the other three play together for Northern Ireland so Evans should be able to slot in Olsson’s space fairly easily. But with Olsson having played three out of four games this season and Welsh international Chester close to a return from injury, nothing can be taken for granted.

For those not on a wildcard, I would suggest waiting at least a week before making a move to get a better idea of how West Brom will line up following the Evans transfer.


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