The expert view on West Brom: Former Sunderland loanee one to watch and a potential weakness to exploit

Sunderland face a daunting trip to The Hawthorns tomorrow afternoon as they look to turn around their poor Premier League form.

Friday, 20th January 2017, 3:02 pm
Updated Friday, 20th January 2017, 6:37 pm
Pulis is enjoying a succesful season at the Hawthorns

West Brom looked to have had something of an under whelming summer, missing out on a number of high profile targets.

The signings they have made, however, have been a revelation and they head into the game sitting comfortably in the top half.

So we caught up with Express and Star reporter Matt Wilson to find out everything you need to know.

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The table looks very good for West Brom at the moment. Why is it all going so right and what’s the general mood like at the Hawthorns?

It’s going well because after 18 months in the job, Tony Pulis has finally managed to ship out the deadwood and bring in his own players.

What looked like an under whelming summer of business has actually ended up being an inspired one, with plenty of shrewd signings.

Allan Nyom, Nacer Chadli and Matt Phillips have all improved the squad, and even Hal Robson-Kanu has provided a moment of brilliance.

Matt Phillips looks to have been an inspired signing, whereabouts has come into the system and why has he been so good?

Phillips can play on either wing and has all the attributes to be a brilliant player.

Six foot tall, two-footed, powerful, pacy, and willing to work back in defence, he’s the archetypal Pulis player, but also the perfect modern day winger.

He started the season ok, but wasn’t getting any results from his workmanlike performances.

Then Pulis dropped him for the Manchester City game and revealed that he suffers from confidence problems.

Whatever he said to Phillips worked, because since then, he’s had a hand in 12 goals in the last 12 games (five goals, seven assists).

Who else should Sunderland fans be keeping an eye on?

Phillips is the main threat at the moment, but if Salomon Rondon or Nacer Chadli are up for it they can hurt any team.

Chris Brunt’s deliveries are always dangerous when the likes of Gareth McAuley jog up from the back, and the big Northern Irishman has already scored five headers this season.

Are there any weaknesses Sunderland could potentially be looking to exploit?

Jonny Evans is a doubt with his calf injury and whenever he’s missing Albion look shaky at the back.

Jonas Olsson has been a fantastic servant to the club, but he can no longer cut the mustard in the Premier League, so Sunderland should target him if he plays.

Allan Nyom may still be unavailable if FIFA rule in Cameroon’s favour in their ongoing dispute over eligibility, meaning Chris Brunt will be at left-back, and he looked dodgy there against Spurs.

Finally, Jonny Evans made a major impact on loan as a youngster at Sunderland. How is he getting on?

Evans is without a shadow of a doubt, Albion’s most consistent player, and arguably their best.

He’s been an absolute revelation since he joined from Manchester United and makes a huge difference to the side whenever he’s playing.

The only problem is keeping him on the field because he picks up plenty of niggling injuries, but his performances have been superb.

Put it this way, when Arsenal came snooping around in the summer, nobody in the Black Country was surprised.