Life in the Premier League for newcomers can be distressing as West Brom are finding out. No win in nine games, a league-high 18 goals conceded and 18th on the table, the Baggies are struggling at the top flight.
There has been a gulf in qualities against opposition most of the times, but the other times, they have been just unlucky not to get a result after satisfactory performance.
It was the story again on Saturday, November 21, 2020, when they travelled to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. The game ended 1-0 to Manchester United although West Brom would have left Old Trafford with all the three points or at least a point.
They had an effort hit the post, David de Gea made a couple of good saves, and they also should have had a penalty before Manchester United took the lead via a penalty.
Conor Gallagher, Grady Diangana and stand-in captain Kyle Bartley were some of West Brom’s standout players on the night, but mention should also go to Semi Ajayi.
Playing from the right of a three-man defence, the Nigerian was solid again and had no problems coming up against fleet-footed Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.
The Nigerian showed calmness in several situations, reading the ball well and making key interceptions. With Ajayi, Bartley and Branislav Ivanović, in central defence, West Brom kept it tight in that area and made life difficult for Manchester United forwards.
The only blip in the Saturday late-kick off game was a slip late in the second half that almost gifted Martial a goal.
It took a penalty for Manchester United to score the only goal of the game, a testament to how well Ajayi and the West Brom defence fared.
Despite the fine performance at Old Trafford, West Brom are a way off most of the teams in the league in terms of quality, and this makes them one of the relegation candidates.
Except a ridiculous turn of form happens, all West Brom players, including Ajayi, have to play for this season is to market themselves as Premier League materials. A performance like Saturday’s and Ajayi will be in the Premier League or a top division in another country next season irrespective of what happens with the Baggies.