West Bromwich Albion: Are the Baggies the Real Deal This Season?
West Bromwich Albion's incredible start to the 2012-13 English Premier League season hasn't gone unnoticed by many, but the question now becomes as to whether or not the Baggies can sustain their performances for the remainder of the year.
Currently sitting sixth in the Premier League and just a point outside the top three, West Brom have indeed started the season better than a number of high-profile teams, including Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Arsenal and Newcastle United.
They have been clinical in defense, and have made the most of their attacking forays—finding the back of the net often enough to clinch victories.
So are they the real deal this season?
Well, obviously we can never know until the season is complete, but the early signs look good for Steve Clarke's men, who can thank their excellent work throughout the summer transfer window for much of their success to date (via The Daily Mail).
With nowhere near the same funds available as the likes of Chelsea or Manchester City, the Baggies picked up two players on a free transfer and three players on a loan for the season—getting good, solid players, but without splashing the cash to get them.
Picking up Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku on loan is a prime example of why the Baggies won big in the summer transfer window, and how they can use that win to propel them towards more wins throughout the season.
The Blues signed Lukaku for a reported £20 million just over a year ago (per BBC Sport), but did not use the Belgian international due to their already strong striker depth, which at the time, included the likes of Fernando Torres and Didier Drogba.
And with the arrival of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin and Oscar into Chelsea's midfield, they did not need Lukaku again this season and decided to ship him out on loan—allowing the player to win by gaining experience he would not have received at Stamford Bridge, and allowing a lucky club the chance to win by gaining a world-class, young striker, who was worth a price they simply could not afford.
West Brom were that lucky club.
Claudio Yacob was another player that the Baggies picked up over the summer; the midfielder moving on a free transfer from Racing Club de Avellaneda and so far, starring for the club in central defensive midfield so far this season.
He, along with goalkeeper Ben Foster, have proved to the club why they were acquired over the summer transfer window and how they are crucial to the club's chances at moving forward this season.
Moving forward to success.
West Bromwich Albion fans will have to wait some time before their team will win the English Premier League, for it won't be happening this season. It probably won't happen next year either, but with a growing, young squad that is full of fresh talent and enthusiasm, there's a new type of momentum and belief going around the Hawthorns at the moment.
Their defense is good, with just Chelsea, Arsenal and Sunderland conceding less goals through the season so far, and they have the attacking pieces available to hurt teams from attacking raids and set pieces in their attacking half.
If Lukaku comes in to his own this season and attempts to justify his incredulous transfer fee, then the Baggies are in for one wild ride this season, and one that could well see them improve on their solid 10th place in last year's competition.
Which, for a club that started the season at 150/1 just to make the top four, would be an incredible effort in itself.
Don't go to sleep on West Brom just yet.
Are West Brom better this year than in their recent history?
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