Well, if that isn’t last on Match of the Day 2 I’ll eat my hat!
A stalemate at West Brom and uninspiring point that saw us stand firm defensively but fail to create nearly enough at the other end.
Here’s an assessment of each player’s performance along with my marks out of 10:
Dubravka – 7 – Some strong early claims from high balls into the box, and that theme continued as he punched or caught several corners, crosses and set pieces to ease the pressure on his back four. His kicking was rusty at times, but he commanded his box and was a safe pair of hands whenever West Brom mustered a shot on goal.
Krafth – 5 – Showed his limitations and lack of decisiveness on the ball, with a few poor crosses and his inability to pick the right pass seeing a few promising attacks fizzle out. He just about coped defensively, but sometimes gave Townsend too much space to cross.
Lascelles – 6 – Careless on the ball at times, but solid defensively. Needed to stand up to the physical test Diagne posed and did that well. Lost Phillips in the box at one point, however a late lunge did just about enough to put him off.
Clark – 8* – Our best player for me, with the centre-back barely putting a foot wrong. Read the danger well and got himself in the right place at the right time more often than not. Some vital interceptions and was the one player who had the composure to pass the ball out of the back – not lump it long.
Dummett – 7.5 – A solid display on his return to the side. His limitations on the ball and reluctance to cross the half-way line sometimes limited us offensively down his side, however he made several strong tackles, won some crucial headers and was rarely beaten. Tired late on, allowing Maitland-Niles to ghost past him at one point, but stuck to his task very well in the main.
Hendrick – 4 – Not for the first time since his summer arrival, the Irishman offered next to nothing – and was hooked off on the 55th minute as a result. People who’d seen plenty of him at Burnley said he was a solid all-rounder, but on current form I’m struggling to see anything he does well.
Hayden – 5 – Snapped into a few tackles but was a bit clumsy on the ball, being guilty of a few aimless punts to no one in particular. He puts himself about more than Hendrick, gives his all and imposes himself physically, but both were pretty anonymous today.
Shelvey – 5 – Too many careless hoofs up the pitch played in hope not expectation. His work rate was much better and he did track back well on several occasions to slow down West Brom breaks, but this was a game for a player of his ability to stamp his authority on the game and pull the strings – and he did neither for me.
Willock – 6 – Played in the Almiron role just off the front two and saw a lot of the ball early on, playing one lovely ball in behind for Joelinton. His strong start quickly turned into a sloppy and non-existent one, however, with him fizzling out of the game as the first half went on. Made one good driving run in the second half, had a shot tipped wide by Johnstone and looked the one players willing to drive us up the pitch, but his final ball and decision making sometimes let him down.
Fraser – 5 – Put the odd decent ball into the box – a few from the left and one clever cut-back from a corner – but his pace that threatened to cause problems in behind and on the counter was rarely utilised. A decent start from him soon turned into a relatively anonymous display. Plenty effort, but needs to work on the timing of his runs and all round involvement in the game. That said, there’s only so much he can do when we spent sections of the game hitting long ball up to one of the PL’s smallest players!
Joelinton – 6.5 – The Brazilian showed glimpses of the handful he can be and linked up well early on. He looked too strong for Townsend at times, with him shrugging off the left-back before having what would’ve been a brilliant assist for Fraser cut out at the last gasp. He worked hard and battled for every ball, but his hold up play was mixed in the second half, with him also guilty of scuffing a left-footed strike that he could and should have done better with.
Gayle – 4 – Played over a third of the game after replacing Hendrick on the 55 minute mark, but touches the ball just 10 times. We didn’t help by hoofing it long nine times out of ten, but it’s impossible to give him more than a four based on his contribution…or lack of it.
Carroll – N/A – His first and only involvement was to go up for a header and instead give away a foul.