Reviewing West Brom's transfer window

Posted by Matthew Evans

Laurence Griffiths/Getty ImagesNew West Brom signing Nicolas Anelka, left, congratulates Markus Rosenberg after a preseason goal. Rosenberg is in his second season at The Hawthorns.

It took a lot longer than expected, with one of their deals going through after the transfer window "slammed shut", but West Brom finally completed their dealings for this summer with four signings on deadline day.

Albion are usually a club that like to get their business done early; they certainly feel there is much more value for money buying earlier in the window rather than doing late deals. However, after the Baggies' poor start to the season and missing out on some of their top transfer targets, such as Salomon Kalou, there was a need to do a fair bit of business on deadline day, which in some cases meant paying what many would consider over the odds.

It was one of the busiest transfer windows in Albion's recent history, with nine players joining and six leaving. With the window closed and no Premier League games this weekend, it is the perfect time to look at how West Brom's squad is looking.

Goalkeeper

Injury to Ben Foster at Everton (foot stress fracture) was a big blow for Albion, particularly as he looked to be in tremendous form and was fighting Joe Hart tooth and nail for the England No. 1 spot. Because of this injury, Lee Camp was bought into the club on a free transfer to provide some experienced cover for Boaz Myhill and Luke Daniels, who has now found himself promoted to No. 2 in Foster's absence. Camp is unlikely to get much game time for Albion but he will provide experience in case of more injuries in this department.

The rolling deal is also a clever piece of business by West Brom, as it means Camp will only be kept on at the club while he is needed rather than leaving Albion with four goalkeepers when Foster is fit, which would be a waste of a space in the 25-man squad.

Defence

At full-back, West Brom have retained the same options they had at their disposal last year. Billy Jones and Steven Reid will compete for the right-back spot, whilst Liam Ridgewell and Goran Popov will fight it out for left-back. In Jones and Popov, manager Steve Clarke has two more attacking full-backs while Reid and Ridgewell are more defensive options, with Jones and Ridgewell, the two full-backs who have started this season, in possession of the shirt.

In the centre of defence, Gabriel Tamas' contract was terminated by mutual consent after four years. Gareth McAuley and Jonas Olsson remain the first-choice pairing at The Hawthorns. The pair have struck up a great understanding over the last two seasons, with McAuley seemingly getting better with every year that goes by.

However, this year they face much more competition for their places with Uruguay captain Diego Lugano joining on a free transfer, while Craig Dawson remains highly-rated by the club.

The signing of Lugano and Dawson's improvement since his loan spell at Bolton leads me to believe Albion have strengthened significantly in the centre of the defence. Olsson admitted his form dipped last year and with the options West Brom now have at their disposal, I wouldn't be worried about him or McAuley being taken out of the side if their form dropped.

Midfield

This was one area West Brom undoubtedly needed strengthening, following the results at the back end of last year where Albion's midfield were shown to be lacking a bit of pace and creativity in the absence of Peter Odemwingie and Zoltan Gera. Albion have certainly addressed this situation, although it did take longer than Clarke would have wanted it to.

Scott Sinclair is exactly what West Brom have been lacking in the wide areas since Odemwingie's absence, someone with pace who is willing to run at defenders with the ball at their feet. He may not provide the number of goals as Odemwingie, but he does provide a similar sort of threat. As a "proper" wide player rather than a striker playing wide, Sinclair should also create far more chances for his team-mates than Odemwingie.

On Deadline Day, Albion added two more midfielders to their ranks, Morgan Amalfitano on loan and Stephane Sessengeon in a club-record deal, believed to be in the region of 5.5 million pounds.

In Sessengeon, Clarke has added more pace and directness to his midfield and someone with a proven Premier League background, having scored seven goals for Sunderland last season. He is a player who has always performed well against Albion and could thrive in the position behind the lone forward, where he can receive the ball and run at the defence.

Amalfitano is much more of an unknown quantity, but is a French international renowned for being a hard-working creative player who can operate all across midfield, offering Clarke some versatility. Despite Odemwingie and Jerome Thomas leaving and no back-up for Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu being signed, Albion have again strengthened massively in ths area. In Sessengeon, Amalfitano and Sinclair they have made three signings who will address the glaring weakness West Brom had in midfield last season.

Strikers

This is where the biggest upheaval of all was seen. Marc Antoine Fortune was released by the club, with Romelu Lukaku returning to Chelsea. Despite their best efforts on Deadline Day, Albion couldn't bring Lukaku back for a second spell at the club, but that doesn't mean they don't have plenty of options.

Shane Long and Markus Rosenberg remain at the club, joined by three new signings, all of whom are very different. First to join was the marquee signing that Clarke wanted, Nicolas Anelka on a free transfer from Juventus. He was followed by Matej Vydra, the player of the year in last season's Championship, who signed on loan from Udinese. The final player to join was Victor Anichebe, who signed on deadline day in a deal that could eventually be worth six million pounds.

Anichebe gives West Brom a big physical presence up front, someone who will hold the ball up and create chances for team-mates. Anelka -- who missed two games with a family issue -- provides great experience, an outstanding footballing brain, superb technique and a threat from deeper on the pitch while Vydra is much more of a poacher, someone who will play off the last shoulder of the defender, looking to chase on to through balls.

Of course, the question is, have Albion replaced Lukaku with those three signings? While I don't think any will reach his 17-goal tally, I certainly believe that they will match and go past that tally between them, while the Baggies also have more goal-scoring options from midfield after this transfer window.

Whilst it may have taken time to get it right, I do think that West Brom have strengthened their squad from last season, which is all that can be asked from the transfer window. It is now down to Clarke to find the right combinations from all of his signings plus the players already at his disposal to propel West Brom from the bottom of the table and away from any potential relegation battle.

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