'We’ve got the ball!' The statistics behind the West Brom chant

West Bromwich Albion manager Tony Pulis and Sunderland manager David Moyes before the match

West Bromwich Albion supporters came up with an entertaining chant in their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City.

West Bromwich Albion supporters came up with one of the chants of the season in their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City.

With the Baggies 2-0 down and starved of possession, The Hawthorns crowd began chanting “We’ve got the ball” whenever they won the ball back from Pep Guardiola’s side. Equally, when Albion were dispossessed the chant morphed into “We’ve lost the ball.”

As amusing as the chant was, it also spoke to West Brom supporters’ frustration with their current style of football.

Albion are currently bottom of the Premier League in terms of possession. So far this campaign, Tony Pulis’s side have averaged 35 per cent possession in games, with the least amount of passes in the division (2,878). And Baggies fans have got used to their side seeing little of the ball after finishing last season bottom of the possession table averaging 39 per cent.

The Hawthorns crowd have watched their side surrender 71 per cent possession to Tottenham; 70 per cent to Manchester City; 70 per cent to West Ham United; 66 per cent to Everton and even 59 per cent to newly promoted Middlesbrough.

  Possession PercentageAppearances
Man City 65% 10
Liverpool 61% 10
Tottenham 59% 10
Arsenal 58% 10
Man Utd 55% 10
Chelsea 55% 9
Southampton 55% 9
Everton 53% 9
C. Palace 51% 10
Middlesbrough 49% 10
Bournemouth 49% 10
West Ham 48% 9
Swansea 48% 9
Stoke 47% 9
Watford 44% 10
Hull 44% 10
Leicester 43% 10
Sunderland 37% 10
Burnley 36% 10
West Brom 35% 10

That being said, possession does not necessarily equate to results. Leicester City are the poster boys for conceding possession, having won the Premier League while averaging just 42 per cent. The Foxes' remarkable season was built on their incredible counter attacking capabilities, with the likes of Danny Drinkwater, Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy thriving within the system.

However, West Brom are not set up to counter attack. When they get the ball it tends to go sideways or backwards first. Albion average 130 forward passes per game, with bottom of the league Sunderland the only team to register less.

Part of the problem is that West Brom keep such a rigid and deep defensive shape, which leaves Salomon Rondon isolated up front on his own. When the ball goes forward to Rondon he faces a tough battle to hold it up and wait for support from the midfield.

It shows in the statistics, with the Venezuelan forward the third most dispossessed player in the Premier League behind Crystal Palace duo Wilfred Zaha and Andros Townsend.

  PositionTeamDispossessedAppearancesMins Played
Wilfried Zaha MF C. Palace 35 9 744
Andros Townsend MF C. Palace 32 10 797
Salomón Rondón FW West Brom 31 10 833

Albion’s only counter attacking goal of the season came in the 4-2 win over West Ham. The Hammers were already 3-0 down and over-committed at a corner to allow Rondon and Nacer Chadli to break away.

Allowing quality sides like Tottenham and Manchester City the ball is understandable but Tony Pulis and his side must work out a way to be more efficient with their possession. With the pace of Jonathan Leko on the bench and the passing abilities of James Morrison and Chris Brunt, Albion do have the tools to improve.

The chants this weekend were a gentle reminder that The Hawthorns crowd would appreciate a bit of attacking intent.

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