How high can the Baggies go?

So far this season the table is already shaping up in a familiar fashion.  Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Spurs are already all in the top seven.  However, in amongst these titans are Everton in third and the comparative minnows of West Brom in fourth.  While much has been made of Everton’s start, everyone expected West Brom to fade as the season got underway.  So far this is not proving to be the case.

The first seven games of this Premier League campaign have seen West Brom pick up an impressive 14 points leaving them level on points with 3rd place Everton.  Although no one would dispute that the Baggies are unlikely to stay in this position, they have made a superb start, which only suggests good things. 

Throughout the 21st century West Brom have become the very definition of a yoyo club.  In the last 13 seasons West Brom were either promoted or relegated in seven of them and reached the play offs in a further two.  It was almost as if they were stuck in a trap, too good for the second tier, not good enough for the Premier League.  But perhaps all that is changing. 

This season marks West Brom’s third consecutive season in the top flight.  The last time they were in the top flight for this long was part of a 10-season period between 1976 and 1985.  Last season, the Baggies finished 10th, their highest league finish since 1981 when they came 4th.  Although even the most optimistic of fans wouldn’t argue that Albion are likely to reach those heady heights for some time, thy certainly have the potential this season to improve on their strong showing last year.

But how high can Albion realistically finish?  Well the two Manchester Clubs, Chelsea, Arsenal and Spurs are very likely to occupy the top five.  If the Baggies want to come 6th, 7th or 8th they would have to surpass the points tally of the two Merseyside clubs and Newcastle.  This is by no means impossible but would be a really tough challenge.  In my eyes 9th place would be a superb season for West Brom and if they finish higher than that then Steve Clark will be a very popular man in the Midlands.

Looking at the West Brom team it becomes apparent that Steve Clark is doing a superb job at the club.  While it would be unfair to say that West Brom don’t possess a strong squad, they are certainly performing above what you would expect looking at the team.  Shane Long, Gera and Lukaku have been superb this season and having Fortune and Odemwingie in attack as well shows the strength in attack West Brom possess.

Another interesting circumstance that makes this story even more interesting is how the Baggies rise seems to be linked to the fall of their arch-rivals Aston Villa.  Villa’s story is a complete opposite of West Brom’s.  They have suffered only one relegation in the last 38 years (only to be immediately promoted back to the top flight). 

For the first time in a long time it looks like Villa might be in for a relegation battle, meaning that West Brom could have two things to celebrate come the end of the season, their own impressive league position and the demise of their midland rivals.

Tom DiMaio

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