What Alex Mowatt did during West Brom’s win highlights Carlos Corberan’s creativity

West Brom swept aside Preston North End at Deepdale on Saturday in their biggest away win since September 2021.
West Bromwich Albion demolished Preston North End’s perfect home record and inflicted a particularly heavy first defeat of the season on the Lilywhites at soggy Deepdale on Saturday, in what can only be described as one of the best all-round performances of Carlos Corberan’s reign – and in general, away from home, for years.

Darnell Furlong and Alex Mowatt fired goals in the first half, before Matt Phillips and Kyle Bartley added further strikes in the second. The goals, the clean sheet and the three points were truly well deserved.

The 2000 fans behind the goal were olé-ing, demanding more goals from a side whose collective confidence levels were visibly soaring. A tremendous day out for the supporters, and a serious message sent to the Championship. Here are the talking points.


Alex Mowatt of West Bromwich Albion

There might’ve been a few raised eyebrows in the away concourse as fans discovered on social media how their team would line up later that afternoon. Albion have had rotten luck with injuries to strikers in 2023, but Brandon Thomas-Asante is as robust as they come and has been depended on to lead the line – as he will again in the coming weeks without Daryl Dike and Josh Maja.

Still, there was no room for him here as Corberan mixed it up. Phillips joined John Swift, makeshift forward Jed Wallace and Grady Diangana in attack, but the opening goal came the right hand side – mind you, Kylian Mbappe couldn’t have finished any better as Furlong converted his chance.

Swift had made clear that he and the other playmakers and wingers in Corberan’s squad must assist Thomas-Asante in producing the goals Albion will need if they’re to realise their ambition this season, but that goes for the defence, too – and Bartley adding the icing on this delicious cake was a reminder that Albion possess goals from across the pitch.

The whole package

Circumstances have of course changed, but on reflection it really is quite difficult to believe that Albion loaned out Mowatt more than 12 months ago, to a Championship rival no less and to a side who would eventually finish above them in the standings. That’s based on afternoons like this one, where for the second week in a row he turned in a man of the match display – there was plenty of competition for that accolade, too.

Mowatt was brilliant in all departments. His intelligence when he completed passes, the composure he showed when the chance was presented to him from close range to double Albion’s lead on the half hour mark and his defensive contribution. With Albion 3-0 to the good and the game won, Mowatt darted back to help snuff out a rare Preston foray forwards.

Following Erik Pieters’ lead, he threw himself in the way of a shot on the edge of the area. The points were in the bag and Mowatt had scored for the first time since April 2022, but there was still a job to do, and a clean sheet to be earned. That was a telling moment and speaks volumes of his commitment to the cause having been granted a fresh lease of life at The Hawthorns.

Curing the travel sickness

It’s been pretty well documented lately how Albion have struggled away from The Hawthorns. Consider their record at home since Corberan arrived nearly a year ago with their away form since the turn of the year, and they’re really poles apart. Heck – not that it matters in the slightest, but Albion in pre-season didn’t win any of their games at the homes of lower league opponents!

This, though, not only eclipsed any away win of Corberan’s tenure up to now, but actually has many fans wondering when they last saw as complete a performance away from home as this. I was extremely fortunate to have been at Stamford Bridge behind closed doors when Albion ran riot at the home of one of the ‘Big Six’, but nothing beats the roar from the away end after a big win.

Bristol City away, shortly before lockdown, under Slaven Bilic was especially memorable, and Albion have also won heavy on the road under Darren Moore and Valerien Ismael, too, but it wasn’t even the score-line here – it was the utter dominance in controlling the game from start to finish. What a way to cure your away day blues, least of all against a team unbeaten and with a 100% home record.

Corberan capturing the imagination

Never one for hyperbole, Corberan is the consummate pro. He remains careful with his words after every game, even here when he could’ve been forgiven for getting carried away. He’d rather remind his players publicly that they must be on their guard on Tuesday and that Sheffield Wednesday’s situation makes them ‘dangerous’. He is also respectful of his opponents, and wouldn’t bow to the away end’s calls for him to wave until the game was won.

On the field, this was the surest sign yet that Corberan, and Albion, got one thing right in an otherwise frustrating summer for recruitment, with limited budgets and requirements to cut the wage-bill – that being the ‘new signings’ of Cedric Kipre and Mowatt, who returned from their respective loans and, for the first time in Corberan’s reign, started together here.

As headline-stealing as Mowatt’s displays have been these past two weeks, Kipre too has returned after the international break in strong form and was, even when nudged out to the right of the defence to accommodate Bartley, as commanding as he has been. That Corberan has practically created roles with the personnel available to him is highly resourceful and clearly paying dividends.


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