Stephane Sessegnon's surprise return to the side was the catalyst for West Brom's 1-0 win over Sunderland at The Hawthorns, their first home victory this season.
Although James Morrison was a doubt for the game, it was still a big surprise to see Sessegnon chosen by Pulis to replace the Scotland International in the West Brom midfield. He hadn't started a Premier League game for Albion this season and it appeared as if he was being frozen out before being allowed to leave in January.
He is perhaps the exact opposite to a typical "Pulis player." Sessegnon is enigmatic, inconsistent and prone to the odd lapse in concentration as part of his defensive duties. But when he performs well, like he did against his former club in the 1-0 win, then he provides the kind of creativity that West Brom have been sorely lacking in their previous home fixtures this season.
The Benin international ran with the ball directly all game, constantly having the beating of former West Brom full-back Billy Jones. His presence meant Albion had someone who could help them transition from defence to attack far quicker than previously, as he has the ability to take players on with his dribbling prowess. In a side whose tactics revolve around counter-attacking, this is a crucial quality.
Sessegnon was even very good defensively, twice earning a standing ovation for the way he sprinted back to cover Craig Dawson and win the ball back for West Brom. If you could level one criticism at the former Sunderland man, it's that his decision making and final ball were poor but considering his lack of game-time this season, that is understandable.
With Pulis seemingly reluctant to use Callum McManaman or Serge Gnabry, he simply has to persist with Sessegnon in a wide midfield role. He is inconsistent and unpredictable, but he does have creativity and the ability to change games on his own, which are qualities West Brom desperately need. Pulis' side is packed full of reliable, consistent work-horses so he can afford to include a couple of match-winners who might not be quite so reliable in their defensive duties.
While Sessegnon was undoubtedly West Brom's man of the match, Saido Berahino was once again the match-winner for Pulis' side, with the forward getting his third goal in four games to earn Albion the victory.
Pulis has received a fair amount of criticism from supporters for some poor results and performances, but he must be given immense credit for the way that he has re-integrated Berahino back into the side. It was a potentially disruptive situation but Pulis brought him back gradually, and at the right time, while Berahino's performances since his return meant that any resentment from the fans has subsided, at least for the moment.
In a similar vein to the Sessegnon situation, Pulis simply has to have Berahino in the starting line-up every week and leave him on the pitch for as long as possible, because he is the one West Brom player capable of scoring goals in the Premier League on a regular basis. This is made more impressive by the limited amount of service he receives in a side that plays with a style that doesn't really suit the England U21 forward.
He scored from one chance against Aston Villa, and it was the same situation against Everton. His winner against Sunderland could barely be described as a chance, it wasn't really created by any kind of quality service, more so a mistake from the Sunderland goalkeeper. The credit Berahino has to receive is that he found himself in the right place at the right time, he showed the instincts of a natural goal-scorer. That is quality he will need this season, considering Berahino often has to fashion chances for himself.
After a couple of poor defensive displays in the 3-2 loss to Everton and the 2-0 defeat at Pulis' former side Crystal Palace, West Brom returned to form at the back with a fifth clean sheet of the season. This demonstrated the benefit of having a settled defence for an entire game.
In the previous two losses, West Brom had to make substitutions to their defence in the first half, which subsequently resulted in defensive reshuffling and poor organisation. With a settled back four, especially with Jonny Evans at the heart of the defence, Albion looked far more comfortable. Evans' presence makes such a huge difference to West Brom's defensive play, he doesn't lose his head either defending or when in possession and is a superb organiser, the rest of West Brom's defence just look so much more at ease with Evans alongside them.
If Pulis is to guide Albion to a secure mid-table finish, or possibly higher, then Evans and Berahino need to be playing as many games as possible, as does Sessegnon, if he can find some consistency in his game.