With thanks to Iain Bate, of the WBA Mad site, for permission to reproduce it, this is how an Albion fan saw his team’s demolition of Sunderland. It sets us up nicely for Pete Sixsmith’s considered view (first thing tomorrow) …
DonnyValdo gives his verdict on Albion’s win:
After making my way to Park Inn Hotel, I was informed by BedfordBaggie that it had been nearly 100 days since Albion had last won in the league (was BedfordBaggie asleep at Molineux – ed?).
In that time, the Villa have shown they are still rubbish, Mick McCarthy has started to sign on and Peter Odemwingie has thankfully found his scoring boots. So too has Roy Hodgson found the formula which made him, and us, such a success last season.
Hodgson made just one change to the massacre at the Custard Bowl, with Keith Andrews coming in for the bruised Paul Scharner. Thankfully the boss decided to stick with the 4-5-1 formation which many fans have called for.
The Baggies started with the confidence they had finished at the end of their last game – a memorable 5-1 win against Staffordshire’s second, or maybe even third, best team. It took Albion only three minutes to take the lead after Keith Andrews had won the ball doggedly inside the Sunderland box. The ball was worked back to Youssouf Mulumbu, who drilled his cross onto the forehead of the onrushing Peter Odemwingie. Albion were off to a flyer.
Keith Andrews was next to threaten with a long range drive. The Republic of Ireland international played a neat one-two with Thomas which brought him space some thirty yards out. The midfield made a clean connection with ball, but his shot was saved easily by Mignolet.
Albion were playing with a swagger and tempo reminiscent of last season. The midfielders were playing in neat triangles and creating problems for their opponents. Jerome Thomas and Odemwingie were equally as effective on the flanks cutting in. But it was from a set piece which almost doubled our advantage. Steven Reid whipped in an excellent free kick from deep; Jonas Olsson leapt highest but his looping header was collected by the keeper underneath his crossbar. It seemed only a matter of time before a second goal arrived.
Morrison then jinked inside evading two challenges, but his left foot effort was easily pushed away. However, minutes later Morrison did extend Albion’s lead. Referee Foy waved a clever advantage after a foul on Ridgewell which allowed Thomas to cross from the byline. His centre was met at the back post by Morrison who expertly headed the ball down and into the top corner.
There was still time for Albion to create another chance as the half wore on. Reid’s excellent free kick again caused havoc for the visitors with the ball bouncing around and falling kindly to Fortune. The striker swivelled but saw his goalbound volley blocked and deflected for a corner by Richardson. The half-time whistle went with Albion fans giving their side a standing ovation. The Baggies were dominant. Sunderland were lucky to be only two down. You could tell it was an excellent first half performance as the toilets were five deep!
After the break
It was obvious that O’Neill would’ve had a few harsh words to say. Albion had made the form side in the division look worse than Wolves. Sunderland started the half with a very offensive formation. However, as the hosts pushed for a way back into the game, the Baggies found acres of space in the middle. After Foster had saved Gardner’s long-range, swerving effort, the goalkeeper set up Albion’s third.
After collecting a corner, Foster smartly threw the ball out to Morrison. He found a willing runner in Fortune, who cut inside and crossed for Odemwingie to smash home a third. 48 minutes gone, game over.
Albion were again well on top. The quick passing and tempo meant Sunderland never had the opportunity to get near Albion’s midfield. Also, when the visitor’s did have the ball, the energy of Mulumbu, Andrews and Morrison saw the likes of Gardner and Cattermole given no time on the ball. It was a joy to watch. This was the performance we’d be hoping for at home for months.
Jerome Thomas almost capped another fine display of wing work with a fourth. The winger cut inside but saw his curling chip cannon back off the crossbar. The ball fell to Fortune, but his mis-control saw the opportunity go.
Fortune was to have his own chance when he turned John O’Shea inside and out before blasting his shot out for a throw from an acute angle. A pull-back to Morrison was later acknowledged by the striker as the better option. Nobody could blame Marco though for having a shot after again working tirelessly up front alone.
But Albion were not to be denied the fourth they deserved. The tireless Morrison again found space down the left. He cut inside and found Dorrans on the edge of the area. The Scotsman cleverly found the on rushing Andrews who curled the ball perfectly into the top corner. Fantastic.
I honestly don’t think it’s any coincidence that Albion have found their top form after switching from a rigid 4-4-2 formation to a fluid 4-5-1. A five-man midfield allows us to play to our strengths. The midfielders can play higher up the field and run past the forwards. These runs are difficult to track and give us extra options when attacking. The players also seem to prefer this shape. Let’s hope Hodgson ends his infatuation with two rigid banks of four and let Albion’s attacking players continue their excellent form.