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West Brom have kept an impressive three clean sheets from their first eight games this season.
Some would say that’s an average amount but, when you consider the transition in personnel over all four positions and our trips included St Mary’s and White Hart Lane, it’s not bad going.
It was no coincidence that two came back-to-back the moment Joleon Lescott was introduced to the starting XI. After an injury-hit pre-season, the free signing from Manchester City excelled on his debut in the 1-0 victory over Spurs and followed it up with a comfortable 4-0 romp over Burnley.
Side by side with a revitalised Craig Dawson, who looks a different player alongside Lescott’s experienced figure, the heart of defence has improved drastically on last season’s performances.
The squad generally has a good feel to it right now; the spine of Ben Foster, Lescott, Craig Gardner and Saido Berahino are a localised quartet. There are Scots, Irish and Welsh in abundance, too.
Lescott, from the outside looking in, seems to have settled in very well. He’d have already been familiar with his surroundings, and identified Rob Kelly, Keith Downing and boss Alan Irvine as the chief persuaders in deciding his future in the summer.
Cut to QPR. Seemingly in turmoil (at least when it comes to the public spat between boss Harry Redknapp and Adel Taarabt), and rock bottom of the Premier League. They put in a very good shift against a currently average Liverpool side, yet proceeded to throw away the point they earned themselves not once, but twice in stoppage time.
After a squad overall in the summer, the loss of Loic Remy and failure to replace him meant a serious lack of attacking threat. The expensive pairing of veteran Rio Ferdinand and Steven Caulker have done little to help their new team out at the other end; Rangers have lost 4-0 twice on the road and have conceded a worrying 18 goals already.
You could consider the Caulker-Ferdinand partnership to be quite similar to that occupying the centre-back pairing at the Hawthorns, but while Dawson is thriving, his former England U21 partner doesn’t seem to be living up to his hefty price tag.
Indeed, Ferdinand’s underwhelming displays cost him his place in the 3-2 reverse to Liverpool. At 35, the former England star’s best days are clearly behind him and there are already whispers in the press that Redknapp may already be prepared to let him go.
Personally, I don’t see his lack of influence at Loftus Road as surprising; he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory in his final couple of years at Old Trafford, either.
It could be argued Ferdinand wouldn’t have even considered Albion had they called him in the summer; he supposedly turned down Aston Villa, and there were many factors for joining the Hoops; the wage packet/signing on fee, the reunion with Redknapp, the opportunity to return to the capital.
And yes, there is a three-year age gap which you could also debate has a profound effect, but while one (the higher profile name) has struggled to maintain the form that has remained so high throughout his career, the other has fitted seamlessly into his new club, and looks set to be an integral character of Albion’s Premier League season.