It is unquestionably one of the fiercest rivalries in English football, it brings sell outs, occasional scraps and dickie tummies all over the Midlands. Of course, I am talking about the Black Country Derby.
February 2011 saw the first top flight derby between the two for 27 years, so with the rivalry at its most electric, a lot more than just 3 points was up for grabs in each game. Over the 146 league meetings between the clubs it is very evenly matched, with West Brom winning 54, Wolves winning 52 and with 40 being draws.
The first game ended 1-1 with O’Hara giving Wolves the lead just before half time, but with loanee Carlos Vela scoring deep into injury time, putting the smiles firmly on the faces of the Baggies fans knowing that last minute sucker punch must have felt like a defeat for their closest rivals.
But the in game stats don’t really suggest the game was as even as it looked, granted the possession was a pretty even split with 54.8% going in the favour of Wolves. But when we take a look at the shots, West Brom had a huge 15, compared to Wolves’ poultry 5 and with 14 WBA chances created to Wolves’ 2. Suggesting that yet again, if Peter Odemwingie isn’t scoring, West Brom aren’t scoring.
Again the stats leaned in West Brom’s favour for the return leg at the Molineux. This time the Baggies had the slight edge in possession with 55.4% , had more shots, made more passes, completed more passes and created more chances with 11 to the Wolves’ 8. But with the game ending 3-1 in the favour of the Wolves, Baggies fans must have been asking what went wrong? Simply put, the Baggies didn’t do enough with the ball and didn’t put away the chances they had. This teamed with some utterly shocking defending of Wolves’ 8 corners meant that Wolves went in at half time 2-0 up.
After the break, an utter clanger from Abdoulaye Meite gave Fletcher the chance to make it 3 and put the game out of West Brom’s reach, despite a 54th minute consolation goal courtesy of a Peter Odemwingie penalty.
This game was not lost solely because of poor WBA defending though, Wolves’ stellar effort, with 30 successful tackles compared to West Brom’s 15 it was little surprise that the Wolverhampton team ended this game on top and finally taking them out of the bottom 3.
This season, for West Brom to return to derby winning ways, they must do several things. Defend better, put away the abundance of chances they create and at whatever cost… keep Odemwingie happy. This all sounds pretty straight forward and trivial, but the stats don’t lie and West Brom statistically had the better of both games.
Cutting out the silly errors in the 2nd game and using simple man for man marking, would have surely meant 3 points for the men in stripes, but with schoolboy marking and Meite’s missing foot, it was not to be. Next year, with the addition of Roy Hodgson’s summer signings, the Baggies fans will be hoping that these mistakes will have all but disappeared, but as we all know… in a derby anything can happen, and in a Black Country derby, that is only amplified.