West Bromwich Albion suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of Leeds United at Elland Road last night.
In a tight affair, the Baggies fell victim to a deflected effort in a 1-0 loss to their promotion rivals.
Ezgjan Alioski’s low-driven effort was the only thing to separate the two sides after 90 minutes as Leeds leapfrogged them to the top spot in the division.
Still sat in second place of the Championship with the second most goals in the division, what have we learned about Slaven Bilic’s side after last night?
We take a look…
Sam Johnstone will keep them in games
Last season, West Bromwich Albion were, ultimately, let down by their poor defending. The club finished in fourth but conceded the joint most goals in the top half of the table.
This season, though, they look like a different side. Whilst they still have just one clean sheet to their name this season, they have only conceded more than once twice which is what, so often, let them down last season. Some crucial blocks and saves kept the team in their most recent game for the full 90 minutes.
Johnstone was incredible, making seven smart stops throughout the game to keep his team in the competition.
The pick of the bunch was a quick-fire double save. First, he displayed his quick reactions when Patrick Bamford poked the ball towards goal from close range.
Then, the ball bounced off the diving goalkeeper to Helder Costa who looked to have an open goal before Johnstone scrambled to his feet to smother the shot and save superbly.
The goalkeeper is going to be crucial to the side if they seriously want to contend for the two automatic promotion places.
Failing to win against the top sides
To title any team a ‘top side’ in the Championship might take some doing; it is a division where teams constantly produce surprising results. That being said, prior to the season commencing, most would have labelled West Brom, Leeds and Fulham as the three serious contenders for the top two places.
West Brom have, now, played both of these teams and failed to win against either of them.
They produced a 1-1 draw against the Cottagers earlier in the season, meaning they have taken just one point from their promotion rivals this season.
Granted, both fixtures were away from home when, perhaps, the expectation and onus would be placed on Fulham and Leeds respectivelym but this shouldn’t stop supporters thinking about how they perform against the top sides in the division.
They can be beaten
Finally, after 10 games, West Brom were beaten in the Championship. They went on the longest unbeaten run in the Championship this season which will be overtaken if Nottingham Forest can avoid defeat in their next match with Brentford.
Sometimes, a good run of form ending can be enough to knock any side’s confidence and – perhaps more worryingly – inspire other teams to get at the side and get a win of their own. Leeds’ greatest success in the match came from the wide areas.
Sometimes, that is all a team needs to build their own game-plan off in their own preparations to beat the Baggies.