West Brom: Mulumbu vs. Delph & Other Three Battles We Need To Win
Jonas Olsson and Christian Benteke
This promises to be an excellent battle. Olsson has previous experience of facing Benteke but couldn’t prevent the Belgian from scoring last season at the Hawthorns. Both of them are very astute in the air and set-pieces could prove dangerous with Benteke lingering, so Olsson must ensure he stays touch-tight. In terms of speed, Benteke has the upper edge but Gareth McAuley is present to provide a sweeping role should Olsson be caught isolated. The Swedish international’s bullish defending and insatiable desire to win games should enable him to come out on top, especially given Benteke isn’t fully fit having just recovered from an injury on his knee. But most certainly, the Villa striker is the visitors’ most potent weapon upfront and Albion’s backline will have prepared accordingly.
Youssouf Mulumbu and Fabian Delph
Like Benteke, Delph is reportedly not 100% fit but is in contention for a starting spot. Both he and Mulumbu control the middle of the midfield, link up play and make attacking forays into the opposition box when the chance arises. Mulumbu is an instrumental part of Albion’s team and is complimented by Claudio Yacob’s energy and hunger alongside him in the centre. Delph can dictate the tempo of matches and isn’t shy of a tackle, very much like Mulumbu. The midfield area will be essential to seeing which side can break through from defence and supply the frontmen with enough ammo to fire. You’d imagine Delph to stay a little deeper given Villa are playing away and Mulumbu to construct and join in attacks with more regularity.
Victor Anichebe and Ciaran Clark
West Brom’s summer acquisition is yet to score a goal for his new club but his performances have still been encouraging. Anichebe has yet to be handed a proper run in the starting eleven mainly because of Nicolas Anelka’s arrival and Shane Long’s upturn in form. Whether he starts against Villa is debateable but Anichebe will certainly feature. When in full thrust, he is this throbbing, devastatingly powerful physical specimen who is pretty much impossible to stop. Clark is a good quality central defender but not the sharpest on foot or most tactically aware and we should look to exploit that. If Steve Clarke opts for a bolder, braver, brighter formation then we could potentially see two starting forwards with Anichebe pairing Long or Anelka. Any defence in the Premier League would find it hard to handle that striking combination. Clark: beware.
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