Abject Albion start new year with a whimper

Posted by Matthew Evans

Romelu LukakuPA PhotosWest Brom striker Romelu Lukaku shows his frustration against Fulham

I really wish Sky TV would change who they pick as their New Year's day early kick off game. Three years in a row Albion have been chosen for this game, three years in a row they have lost the game. The performance on Tuesday was the worst of the lot.

- Fulham claim valuable victory

Fulham dominated possession for most of the game and West Brom never really got a foothold in the game, except for a 15 minute spell in the second half. The first was lacklustre, Albion just couldn't keep possession of ball due to a combination of good passing from Fulham and poor touches and passing from the home side. It was as if the players were the ones nursing hangovers, not those in the stands.

Chris Brunt has performed reasonably well in central midfield thus far but his performance at The Hawthorns was horrible. Brunt is a player with great passing ability but he barely found a blue and white shirt all day. Youssuff Mulumbu also struggled to be his usual destructive self.

It is clear that The Baggies miss Argentine International Claudio Yacob, he keeps the ball moving better than any other Albion player and is probably the only midfielder West Brom have capable of tackling well and consistently.

Another noticeable absence was defender Jonas Olsson. The big Swede has been a colossal figure at the back for Albion in his time at the club, particularly so this season, and without him Gareth McAuley had the responsibility of marshalling the back four and was shakier than he usually.

The only players to emerge with any credit were Billy Jones and goal-scorer Romelu Lukaku. Jones had a struggle against Fulham winger Alexander Kacaniklic at Craven Cottage but had no such trouble today whilst going forward he was the only outlet the Baggies had, setting up the goal for Lukaku with some fantastic work down the right. Jones also came close late on with another run.

Lukaku added another goal to his season's tally (my prediction of Lukaku being the club's top scorer is looking better by the day!) but in truth the on-loan Chelsea striker could have netted a hat trick. He was unfortunate when hitting the post whilst he also had a shot saved by Stockdale when through on goal. In general he was a threat to what is a very solid Fulham back four, particularly when the ball was put in behind.

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