Having been relegated from the 2020-21 Premier League after just one season in the top flight, West Bromwich Albion (WBA) were expected to at least challenge for promotion if not go straight back up. And the Baggies started well, winning six out of their first 10 games and remaining unbeaten. However, in January and February, West Brom lost seven out of nine games, which saw the coach Valerien Ismael get sacked and replaced by Steve Bruce. Here, we will assess how badly West Brom underperformed this season in the EFL Championship.
West Brom finished the season in 10th place on the points table with a record of 18 wins, 13 draws and 15 losses and a goal difference of +7. Considering that they were expected to bounce back from relegation, this campaign was very disappointing for the Baggies. And xG shows that West Brom were expected to score 75 goals, but in reality, they scored 23 goals fewer at 52 which, in percentage terms, is 30.67% worse than expected. This is despite Karlan Grant being the sixth-highest goalscorer in the division this season.
Defender Darnell Furlong was West Brom’s most successful threat creator in the EFL Championship this season. However, most of his threat came from set-pieces, particularly his throw-ins, and to some extent, his corners. From open play, it was Conor Townsend who generated the most threat. The leading assist provider for the Baggies this season was the 26-year-old Irishman Callum Robinson, who had nine to his name.
Shown above is the shot map of West Brom in the 2021-22 EFL Championship season. Karlan Grant has been the go-to man for goals this campaign, with 18 strikes to his name. However, the Baggies missed several big chances which had an xG value of 0.5 or more (an xG of 0.5 or greater means the team is more likely to score than miss). Had West Brom buried those opportunities, they may have at least fought for promotion towards the end of the campaign. West Brom attempted 646 shots but managed to score only 48 times (excluding own goals by opponents), giving them a conversion rate of 13.46 shots per goal scored.
West Brom’s underachievement in both xG, as well as xA, can be seen from the above chart. The Baggies’ xG per game and xA per game stood at 1.51 and 0.94, respectively, but their actual goals per game and assists per game were 0.96 and 0.6, respectively. Their ball progression also left a lot to be desired as their passing accuracy into the final third stood at only 58%, meaning they have nearly misplaced every other pass in this category.
Having had a disappointing campaign, West Brom will need to make massive improvements if they are to challenge for promotion next season. One of these improvements must come in attack as Karlan Grant lacked the support from teammates for goals.