Football Features

Millwall 0-2 West Brom: Bilic opens four-point lead at the top as Baggies pass Den test

By Ollie Thomas

Published: 15:43, 9 February 2020

West Brom put themselves into pole position for promotion after a fantastic display in difficult conditions at the Den on Sunday afternoon.

A delightful finish from Filip Krovinovic put the Baggies in the driving seat before Dara O’Shea scored his first senior goal to secure the three points.

It puts Millwall’s play-off push on hold but moves Slaven Bilic and his side one step closer to the Premier League promised land.

Here are the winners and losers from Sunday afternoon’s clash:

Winner: Romaine Sawyers

Often, you watch a promotion-chasing team knowing that a lot of those involved will likely not get their chance in the top flight should they go up. Look at Barry Douglas of Leeds: one of the staples of Wolves’ promotion side, he was shipped off in the summer before he got his chance.

We really hope that Romaine Sawyers is not one of those players. He has only missed two of West Brom’s Championship games this season and, as per usual, put in an effortlessly dominant performance in the midfield.

He may not be the type of midfielder to score 10 goals per season, but his presence in the middle of the park is crucial to the Baggies and Bilic. At 28 years of age, he’s yet to make his Premier League debut. We hope that changes very soon.

Loser: Mahlon Romeo

Romeo will be very glad that his afternoon is over.

The right-back had the thankless task of dealing with Callum Robinson then Kamil Grosicki down his flank and had a torrid time.

No player on the pitch was dribbled past more times than Romeo (four) and he was very fortunate not to pick up a late booking after 90 minutes of frustration clearly got the better of him.

He was not the only Millwall player that struggled. It’s hard when West Brom are in the mood.

Winner: Callum Robinson

When Sheffield Utd broke their transfer record to sign Callum Robinson last summer, few would have predicted that he’d be playing at the Den come February.

It must have been immensely disappointing for him too: despite scoring and assisting in the Blades’ famous comeback at Stamford Bridge, Robinson struggled to hold down a place in the team and was subsequently shipped off to West Brom last month.

This situation was about fight or flight, and Robinson made his stance clear today. He was one of the Baggies’ brightest sparks throughout the game, completing five key passes whilst on the pitch and doing nearly everything apart from scoring.

West Brom have unbelievable attacking depth for a Championship side, but one gets the impression that Robinson will not struggle for game time at the Hawthorns.

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Loser: Marcelo Bielsa

This performance from West Brom will be a massive concern for Bielsa and his men.

Once again, Leeds slipped up on Saturday and must have hoped that fierce rivals Millwall would do them a favour against their promotion rivals. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t.

The more games that are played, the more it looks like Leeds’ title dreams are fading. They are clearly feeling the pressure, whereas West Brom, if today is anything to go by, are not.

If Leeds fail to go up once more, Bielsa may call time on his spell at Elland Road.

Winner: Slaven Bilic

There’s only one word to describe Sunday’s performance from West Brom: wow.

It really doesn’t come much harder than this: away at Millwall, in the midst of a storm after watching your title-chasing rivals slip up. The pressure on Bilic and his team today was huge, but you would never have known.

They absolutely dominated Millwall – who were unbeaten against the current top six at the Den this season before today – and cemented themselves as outright favourites to return to the top flight after their play-off defeat last year. They had a whopping 29 shots today: the most they’ve managed in a game since they were relegated in 2018.

Bilic deserves a lot of credit. He has undoubted ability as a manager (West Ham fans will not only vouch for that but probably miss it too) and West Brom are lucky to have him.

Championship promotion state of play

Current Championship table: Promotion state of play 2019/20

 

The race for promotion to the Premier League is evolving into one of the most exciting fights in world football this season. In other news, the sky is blue and grass is green.

At one point, it appeared as though Leeds and West Brom were certainties for promotion: they were 11 points clear of the chasing pack as recently as mid-December. However, two horrific runs of form mean Leeds are now level on points with third-placed Fulham and only five points above seventh-placed Bristol City.

Two wins on the bounce has given West Brom some priceless breathing space at the top, although they are still just four points clear of stuttering Leeds and Fulham.

Preston have snuck into the top six after Bristol City threw away a lead at home to Birmingham over the weekend. Don’t expect the play-off spots to stay as they are between now and the end of the season, however.

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