West Bromwich Albion have been preparing for the 2013-14 Premier League season by bringing in some veteran players and hoping to keep the same form they had last EPL season.
Steve Clarke’s team in the 2012-13 Premier League season overachieved more than probably any other club in the league. They started out the year extremely hot and climbed as high as fourth at one point. They ended the season in a respectable eighth place with a 14-7-17 record.
The problem they ran into last year was their negative goal difference (-4), having allowed 57 goals and scoring 53. If they want to improve on last season they will need to change this statistic along with turning more of their 17 losses into wins or at least draws.
Some keys for West Brom this year will be keeping Ben Foster in form for another year. He gave an outstanding performance in goal in 2012-13 and will need to repeat this. Defensively they will need to tighten up and bringing in defenders Goran Popov and Diego Lugano, Clarke is showing that this is an area to improve on.
Up front they brought Nicolas Anelka back to the Premier League. It remains to be seen what he will bring to West Brom considering his age and his attitude. Too often he becomes sulky and doesn’t play to his potential.
In addition to Anelka they also managed a loan deal for Matej Vydra from Udinese. Last 2012-13 Championship season Vydra led his Watford team in goals scored as well as being fourth high scorer in the Championship, with 20 goals.
They do still have Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie, but Long has often been disappointing and Odemwingie has not endeared himself to the West Brom staff, fans or players. If he has been able to repair these relationships and gets himself back in the team, he can be a solid player that can help out the club.
These additions should boost West Brom’s need for strikers, especially after Romelu Lukaku returned to Chelsea following his loan deal last season. Lukaku’s 17 goals scored last year will be missed, but they are hoping they can be replaced by Vydra, Long, Anelka, or a combination.
In the midfield West Brom still have a solid setup with players like Chris Brunt, James Morrison, Youssuf Mulumbu, and Claudio Yacob.
My Premier League season prediction for West Brom is another solid season in 2013-14. They might not be able to make it quite as high as last year, but should be right around the middle of the table. The problem for them is that there are some quality teams around them including Everton, Swansea, and Liverpool as well as West Ham United and Aston Villa.