West Bromwich Albion earned their third win of the season with a 2-1 victory over Leicester City, in turn ending the reigning champions 20-game unbeaten streak at the King Power Stadium. But it was not the victory that was the most pleasing aspect but the performance of West Brom. Tony Pulis gave his players more license to get forward and attack, given them a freedom which they clearly enjoyed after the overly-defensive performances in their previous two fixtures.
The main positive as a team was that the players showed that, when given a chance, they are capable of playing some decent football. A lot of this was down to the return of the old-guard midfield duo of James Morrison and Chris Brunt, who looked reinvigorated and seemed to have a point to prove. Matt Phillips also put in his best performance in a West Brom shirt, providing a level of quality in the final third that he has lacked in his other appearances this season.
The full-back positions remain a concern, Allan Nyom dealt fairly well with Riyad Mahrez but looked very awkward in doing so while Craig Dawson occasionally struggled against Ahmed Musa. However, the main negative was that West Brom showed they are capable of playing decent football which makes you question why Pulis is often so keen to put the handbrake on and play a style that clearly doesn't suit the players at his disposal?
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- While injuries and suspensions may have forced Pulis' hand to some degree, sticking with Darren Fletcher despite his poor form was a wise decision as he put in a much improved display and his experience was crucial at the end. This allowed Morrison to influence the game higher up the pitch. Using Brunt and Phillips on the "wrong" wings, cutting inside onto their strong foot rather than running to the byline, also proved to be a clever tactic that overwhelmed the Leicester defence.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ben Foster, 6 -- Had very little to do in terms of key saves, could do nothing about Leicester's equalising goal. Dominated his area towards the end of the game as more crosses were put into the box.
DF Craig Dawson, 6 -- Made a big contribution to the attacking start West Brom made to the second half that resulted in their opening goal, even overlapping his winger on a few occasions. Struggled with Musa's pace but generally not in dangerous areas of the pitch.
DF Gareth McAuley, 7 -- Enjoyed the physical challenge posed by Islam Slimani and generally came out on top in their battle. Made a couple of important blocks at crucial moments.
DF Jonny Evans, 8 -- A colossal performance from the former Manchester United man. Organised the defence, supported Nyom against the tricky Mahrez and defended stoutly. Showed tremendous composure, including one dummy on the edge of his own box that was world class.
DF Allan Nyom, 6 -- It's difficult to judge Nyom, who always looks awkward yet he did manage to keep Mahrez relatively quiet, with his pace proving to be a big weapon in repelling the Algerian.
MF Chris Brunt, 7 -- Enjoyed playing on the right side as it allowed him to cut in and influence play more. Composed with the ball at his feet, knowing when to keep it simple and when to try something more complicated. Deliveries from set plays were spot on as usual but his shooting left a lot to be desired.
MF Claudio Yacob, 6 -- Returned to the side after suspension and made a decent contribution in the defensive effort. Played a couple of excellent cross-field passes in the first half but also made some poor decisions with the ball at his feet.
MF Darren Fletcher, 6 -- Much improved on recent weeks, although still not at his inspirational best. Used the ball far better, drove West Brom forward with his energy and less errors in and around his own area.
MF James Morrison, 8 -- Influenced the game from the first whistle, played a series of dangerous through balls and made the right decisions in the final third. Clever header for the goal and the prospect of him linking up with a returning Nacer Chadli is an exciting one.
MF Matt Phillips, 8 -- His best game for West Brom by a distance. Unlucky not to score as early as the third minute. Provided a series of dangerous crosses from both sides of the pitch, including the assist for Morrison's goal. Cool finish under pressure for West Brom's winner.
FW Salomon Rondon, 6 -- Another tireless performance from Rondon, who had far more support than in recent weeks. Held the ball up well and brought the surrounding midfielders into play by occupying Leicester's centre-back pairing.
MF Craig Gardner, n/a -- Did his job out wide as West Brom looked to see out the game, including taking a yellow card to prevent a Leicester counter attack.
FW Hal Robson-Kanu, n/a -- Very little time for the Welshman to make an impact as he supported the defensive effort of Rondon from the front.