It was another tepid home performance from West Brom, as they drew with newly promoted Middlesbrough at The Hawthorns. It was a solid defensive display from West Brom, with the Teesiders offering very little in the way of attacking threat, but similarly, Tony Pulis' side lacked any cutting edge or creativity in the final third as their poor home form continues.
Brendan Galloway's league debut was promising, particularly as he provided West Brom with another attacking threat in what is a limited side. Galloway's presence at left back also meant that Jonny Evans could return to centre-half, where he was his usual assured self. The biggest positive was the full Premier League debut of Sam Field in the heart of midfield: He was good on the ball, put himself about and looked like he could establish himself as a first team regular very quickly.
It's the same old pattern for West Brom in home games: Their effort levels can't be faulted, but the quality simply isn't there. Darren Fletcher has so far failed to live up to the high standards he sets himself, giving the ball away too much. Salomon Rondon's inability to hold the ball up is worrisome, considering West Brom's reliance on the Venezuelan.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- With Galloway and Field being two of the standout players on the pitch, Pulis' initial changes couldn't be faulted, with the switch to 4-5-1 enabling West Brom to get more of the ball. Once Boro stifled this approach, Pulis failed to adapt, once again sticking with the same tactic, as they were seemingly happy for a 0-0. His substitutions did little to influence the game, but that could be blamed on the limited options available to him.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Ben Foster, 6 -- Was rarely tested, but his handling looked assured when Middlesbrough did manage to hit the target. Kicking was improved on recent weeks.
DF Craig Dawson, 5 -- Had a couple of poor touches in dangerous positions but was generally solid defensively. Was more impetus on Dawson to go forward and support Matt Phillips, but this still doesn't came naturally to him, and he struggled in the final third as a result.
DF Gareth McAuley, 7 -- Was given a tough test by Alvaro Negredo but never looked in any real trouble; he thrives in physical battles. Made one crucial interception to stop a Boro attack in full flow.
DF Jonny Evans, 7 -- Positioning was sound as he generally let McAuley deal with Negredo while he swept up the pieces. Showed his class on the ball on several occasions; the Northern Irishman's ability to bring the ball out of defence tends to make West Brom's style a little easier on the eye.
DF Brendan Galloway, 8 -- Steady defensively. but it was going forward where he stood out. Pacey and always happy to overlap, Galloway provided a couple of decent crosses that weren't latched onto. He also tested Brad Guzan from the edge of the area.
MF Matt Phillips, 6 -- Came into the game as it went on and more space opened up, showing a willingness to run at his man. Decent delivery from set plays too; things just aren't dropping for him at the moment.
MF Claudio Yacob, 6 -- Did his usual job of protecting the defence but too similar to Fletcher and Field, meaning West Brom lacked any kind of creative presence in the midfield of the park.
MF Darren Fletcher, 5 -- Hasn't yet reached the heights that saw him win the club's player of the year award last season. Gave the ball away far too much, including some in crucial areas of the pitch.
MF Sam Field, 8 -- Looked by far and away the most comfortable West Brom midfielder with the ball at his feet, keeping things ticking along. Encouragingly, he always looks forward for a pass, rather than taking the easy sideways choice.
MF James McClean, 7 -- Continued his good start to the season with a display of direct running and crosses into the box. Seemed a strange decision to take McClean off in the second half.
FW Salomon Rondon, 5 -- Poor first touch, and misplaced passes meant West Brom were unable to retain possession for any length of time. Should have done better with a couple of chances in the first half.
MF Jonathan Leko, NR -- Had little time to make an impact before having to be subbed off with an injury.
FW Saido Berahino, 5 -- Lacked effort and composure in a vital area of the pitch. Will be best for both parties if he was to move before the end of the transfer window.
MF Craig Gardner, NR -- Unable to make much of an impact on the game.