Baggies benefit with Brunt in centre

Posted by Matthew Evans

Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesChis Brunt's move to the centre has paid off for West Brom

West Brom captain Chris Brunt's move to the centre of the midfield the past couple of games has presented Steve Clarke with another option as injuries and international call-ups begin to take their toll on the Baggies. Until the move, Brunt hadn't been in the best of form and even now he is still isn't.

But Brunt is starting to contribute a lot more from the central area than he did from the wide left role where Clarke had been playing him before Claudio Yacob (injury) and Youssuff Mulumbu (suspension) missed the Norwich game. Is Brunt a potential first-choice player in that central role? If Yacob and Mulumbu are available, probably not, but as that hasn't been seen for a while Brunt provides a new option for Clarke, whose team visits Manchester United Saturday.

Brunt has many attributes needed when playing in the deep midfield role. The Northern Irishman has a great passing ability, one facet Mulumbu strugglse with if he is relied upon as the main distributor. Brunt can play the perfect through-ball but he knows when to keep things simple or switch play when required.

Playing centrally also gives Brunt more chance to go for goal, which he did with great effect against QPR, smashing a 25-yard shot into the bottom corner. This is an area of Brunt's game that has gone into decline over recent years. He was The Baggies top league scorer for two seasons in a row under Tony Mowbray and Roberto Di Matteo, although one of those was admittedly in the Championship.

Having Brunt in the team also means West Brom have a hugely gifted dead ball specialist amongst their ranks. Three of Albion's last five goals have come from Brunt's delivery from corners. With the size of Albion's side it is vitally important the set-piece delivery is dead on and Brunt is capable of doing that more so than any other player in the squad.

Brunt struggles with one duty in the centre of midfield. His tackling which is weak and nowhere near the level of either Yacob or Mulumbu. However, the likelihood is if Brunt is playing in the centre of midfield, he will be playing with one of those two. Brunt being able to play deep is also beneficial to West Brom's attacking outlets as it means James Morrison does not have to drop back from his position behind the striker where he has been so impressive this season.

With Mulumbu set to join DR Congo for the African Cup of Nations in January and Yacob still struggling with a hamstring injury, Brunt should be set for a prolonged run in the side in that central position.

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