And figures put Amalfitano and Berahino up there
THE guys over at football statistics website WhoScored.com give us the lowdown on Albion’s 1-0 win over Newcastle – their first win in ten games.
Alan Pardew brought a Newcastle side who have been extremely impressive this season to The Hawthorns for the first fixture of 2014, and given the sides' contrasting fortunes, you would have been forgiven for expecting the away side to come away with a win.
However, it was not to be, as the Baggies showed the kind of character that is so integral to success in the top flight, winning the midfield battle and restricting their opponents to just nine chances in the encounter; they have only had fewer at Manchester City (six) and Tottenham (eight) this season.
Even more noteworthy, however, is the fact the Magpies only managed three shots from inside the box over the course of the 90 minutes, instead resorting to pot-shots from range having grown frustrated at the lack of opportunities their creative ranks could muster.
It was not a surprise to see Newcastle have the lion’s share of possession, with the Baggies happy to sit and wait for opportunities on the break, with only 24 per cent of the play taking place in Albion's defensive third of the pitch as the visitors struggled for openings.
Again, though, it was youngster Saido Berahino who was key for the Baggies, coming off the bench to prove a constant threat before eventually scoring the winning goal, calmly and confidently converting a late penalty, despite great pressure on the spot-kick.
Despite starting only four league games this season, Berahino has proved his worth whenever he has been called upon, and has more goals (four) than any other Albion player this term.
Against Newcastle on Wednesday, he only came off the bench at half time but still, no player on the pitch had more shots than him (four) as he terrorised the away team’s back line.
It was Morgan Amalfitano that was awarded the WhoScored.com man of the match award, though, with a rating of 7.84, having had more touches than any other player (79), created more chances than anyone else (four) and also made the joint most tackles (four) as he showcased the offensive and defensive aspects to his game, occupying the right wing berth before switching to right-back.
Forty-two per cent of Albion's attacking touches came down that flank (compared to 29 per cent on the left) and the team had Amalfitano to thank for that.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @alitweedale on Twitter.