Following another impressive performance against Arsenal, West Bromwich Albion head into the international break unbeaten in their last four league games. However many Baggies fans are still wondering whether they will see the best of their marque summer signing Nicholas Anelka.
Despite not scoring at all this season, things have started to look up. He seems to have settled in with his new team mates, and this has been proven on the pitch. His link up play with the rest of the squad has been considerably better since making his debut against Southampton on the first day of the season.
Anelka has looked dangerous down the right hand side, linking up well with former Preston man Billy Jones. He received the ball from Jones six times against Arsenal in the final third, creating two clear cut chances for Albion. Stats show that against Southampton he failed to create any chances for the side.
The former France international has also looked more dangerous in the final third. Against The Gunners he completed fourteen passes in the attacking areas, helping Albion register a number of shots on the Arsenal goal.
Anelka has kept the ball well in the midfield areas, retaining the ball for the side. He was successful in all of his 14 passes in the middle section of the pitch, ensuring that West Brom could build from the centre.
The addition of Stephane Sessegnon also seems to have sparked Anelka into life. The Benin midfielder is an outlet the Anelka seems to trust, as he fed the former Sunderland man six times during the Arsenal match. Another positive for Anelka was that he completed eight forward passes against Arsene Wenger’s team, compared to just four against Southampton.
Another impressive side to Anelka’s game against Arsenal was his commitment to the cause compared to his previous matches. He was challenging 6 foot 5, German international, Per Mertesacker in the air, beating him twice. But he also has shown a desire to work back. He intercepted the ball three times against the league leaders, something he wasn’t able to do once on his debut.
However, Anelka was brought to the club to score goals. If he is to turn a corner he will have to start finding the back of the net sooner rather than later. Despite his impressive link up play and clever passes, he has only registered one shot against both Arsenal and Southampton, and that was off target.
The off field problems haven’t helped Anelka settle into the side but if the loyal supporters stick with their number 39, I am sure we will see the best of their big name striker. If he keeps progressing each week, it won’t be long before he is in the goals, propelling West Brom up the table.