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Valerien Ismael details two key West Brom requirements ahead of Middlesbrough showdown

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West Bromwich Albion boss Valerien Ismael has stressed the importance of his side scoring an early goal this afternoon against Middlesbrough, but urged the Baggies to remain patient and stick to their game plan if this fails to materialise as he spoke to the club’s media team.

The Baggies come into this tie having secured a narrow 1-0 victory over relegation strugglers Hull City at The Hawthorns in midweek, being frustrated for large periods of the game before finally making the breakthrough in the 69th minute through their top scorer Karlan Grant.

After being held to three frustrating draws against Millwall, Derby County and Preston North End earlier in the season, this second-half strike was a major relief to a side that recently lost their automatic promotion spot to Fulham and are now the main side chasing a top-two spot amid Coventry City’s recent drop-off.

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Heading into this final tie before the next international break, they currently sit four points adrift of Marco Silva’s side and saw them vastly improve their goal difference with a 7-0 away hammering at Blackburn Rovers on Wednesday evening.

With the Cottagers on course to pick up another three points against a struggling Peterborough United side today, this makes a win at The Hawthorns against Boro a must for Ismael’s men and the Frenchman has listed two key requirements his side may have to meet if they want to come away with a victory.

Speaking ahead of this afternoon’s clash on these necessary steps, he said: “We stick to our game plan and we remain patient if we have to (against Boro).

“We know that we can score at any time with the quality we have, and we have done it more often than not at home.

“That’s a sign of the belief in our squad.

“The second solution is to score an early goal. I always say to the guys that I want to start strong and end the game strong. Early goals help give us the early momentum in the game.

“I think we will have a similar game against Middlesbrough to the ones we have had plenty of times at home this season.

“We will need to have one of those two solutions against Middlesbrough, although I would like us to score an early goal as it would help everything. If we can’t score early, we have to find the solution in our possession.”

The Verdict:

Getting on the front foot early will be key. Middlesbrough showed in midweek that they can make the breakthrough away from home and although their eventual collapse at Kenilworth Road will give Albion hope if the same happens at The Hawthorns, it wouldn’t be a good situation to be in with promotion rivals Fulham continuing to thrive.

The Cottagers may look invincible after their huge victory at Ewood Park – but they have already shown this season that they will slip up at some point and after leaders AFC Bournemouth’s recent loss to Preston North End, it’s also worth keeping the pressure on them.

The Cherries suffered their first league defeat of the season against Frankie McAvoy’s men, making their fixture today at home to Swansea City their most important of 2021/22 so far and with this pressure to do well, you certainly wouldn’t rule out Scott Parker’s side crumbling today. They are human, after all.

This is why it’s so important for the Baggies to keep up the pressure and look above them as opposed to over their shoulder.

Teams below the bottom three may be extremely inconsistent at this stage, but they won’t want to be sucked into a scrap for a play-off spot after establishing themselves as promotion favourites at the beginning of the campaign.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Valerien Ismael details two key West Brom requirements ahead of Middlesbrough showdown

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