West Bromwich Albion have been one of the surprise performers this season in the Premier League. They currently have five point gap over fifth place as they seek to maintain a Champions League slot. What are the reasons for their success?
Firstly, the club have been able to maintain their home form this season with six wins and a single defeat. This means anything they pick up away from home is a bonus and they are utilising the advantage playing at home gives them.
Another reason for the success is the fact that they have been able to keep key players fit. Attacking stars such as Shane Long, Zoltan Gera and Peter Odemwingie have all managed to stay injury free which has allowed them to play regularly.
Having a fitter squad than normal means the manager can regularly rotate players. The main benefit of this is that it keeps everyone fresh and means players are more likely to perform to a higher level in each game.
West Brom have also benefited from the managerial style of Steve Clark. Clark is an individual who spent a long time learning the game as an assistant to other managers. He uses this experience well and coaches in a very basic style which defines the role of each player in his team.
Clark as manager means West Brom play from the back. At home the club have only conceded five goals which is the same record as Manchester City. Only Stoke City have a better home defensive record having conceded just a single goal.
West Brom have competed well against the sides in and around them competing for a top European place. They have victories over Liverpool, Everton and Chelsea, all teams expected to be pushing for the Champions League and Europe by the end of the season.
They have reacted well to any negative patch. Back-to-back defeats to Manchester City and Newcastle United in October have been followed by four straight wins through November.