THE guys over at football stats website WhoScored.com
have taken an in-depth look at Albion's 1-1 draw with Everton on Monday night.
Pepe Mel enjoyed a draw with one of the Barclays Premier League's best performing sides on his Hawthorns curtain raiser, with the Baggies holding Roberto Martínez's impressive Everton side to a 1-1 stalemate.
The two teams lead the division in terms of draws this season, so after Kevin Mirallas put the visitors ahead, there was always good reason to believe the tie would be levelled up.
It was an assured and confident performance from an Albion side and there was little telling from what was on show as to which team is around the Champions League places at present.
Albion matched their opponents for possession (51.2% to 49.8%) and registered more attempts on goal too (14 to 13), and once the players had found their feet in Mel's system they began to assert themselves on the game.
The Baggies were happy for their opponents to retain possession in their own half, and much of the play took place around Everton's backline and defensive midfield positions.
It was when they began to progress upfield that Mel's Albion looked to shut things off, and they did so to great effect; particularly in the second half, when the Toffees failed to register a single shot on target.
Albion won the ball in the middle third of the pitch more times (37) in last night's game than they have in any other Premier League game this season, and also made their highest combined total of tackles and interceptions (47).
Claudio Yacob, James Morrison and later Youssouf Mulumbu were all key in this regard, and looked to have taken to Mel's philosophy like a duck to water.
Compact and solid, defensively it was a fantastic performance from the hosts, while when breaking forward, the flanks were utilised to great effect.
It was via a cross from Morrison that Diego Lugano netted the equaliser, as he capped a fine display with his first goal for the club.
Currently captain of the Uruguay national team, the centre-back was standing in for the injured Gareth McAuley, and put in a performance to earn the Baggies a point.
Not only did he score a vital - and brilliantly taken - goal, he displayed strength and power in winning six aerial duels as he did battle with the burly Romelu Lukaku, tenacity in making five tackles and anticipation in adding three interceptions.
Most of all though, his great positional sense was shown, with the centre-back making an incredible 17 clearances.
It was plain to see just how good this experienced defender is, possibly to an extent that he has not yet shown in a Baggies shirt, but after this showing, new boss Pepe Mel will have a tough decision on his hands as to who will start at centre-back going forward.
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