West Bromwich Albion will travel to Carrow Road on Saturday knowing they can get the better of a topsy-turvy Norwich City, having beaten them back on home turf just last month 1-0.
Carlos Corberan will hope he can rely on Brandon Thomas-Asante to be the Baggies hero up top again in this one, the number 21 bagging a brace against Blackburn Rovers last game to keep his spot in the team for the trip to Norfolk even with Andreas Weimann recently joining the club.
Adding bodies into the building won’t just stop now the experienced Austrian attacker has arrived on the scene on loan, with Corberan potentially eyeing up an upgrade on Okay Yokuşlu if transfer rumours are true.
Signing a Yokuslu upgrade
According to reports, via the Sunderland Echo, West Brom, alongside other Championship suitors, are keen on bringing in Newcastle United midfielder Isaac Hayden this month after a disastrous loan switch to Standard Liege was abruptly cut short.
It’s now expected, according to the report, that Eddie Howe will offload the fringe Magpies man to a second-tier side with Middlesbrough and QPR also interested in signing the 28-year-old.
With Yokuşlu below-par last game against Blackburn even with the Baggies collective strolling to a comprehensive victory – winning only 50% of his duels in an uncharacteristically feeble display – Hayden could be viewed as an upgrade on the Turkish enforcer if signed this January.
How Hayden would fit into the West Brom team
The Magpies midfielder has impressed out on loan in the second tier before, starring with the Canaries playing in a holding role alongside Gabriel Sara last campaign and showing signs of his quality.
One display towards the back end of last season for the Norfolk-based outfit against QPR saw the 28-year-old show off his solidity with nine aerial duels won in total at Loftus Road.
Moreover, the £22k per week man was always alert to the danger in the contest presented by the Hoops with eight accurate long balls pumped up the field to alleviate pressure on the Canaries net.
He could well help West Brom shore up even more at the back, boasting better statistics than Yokuşlu when it comes to many of the duties Corberan will want his midfielders to excel in when having to do their dirty work defensively.
Over the last year, per 90 minutes, Hayden has won on average 3.35 aerial duels compared to Yokuşlu’s lesser 2.54 with the current Newcastle number 14 also a more progressive and aggressive option that could come into the side and complement Alex Mowatt’s attacking game.
Hayden has averaged 3.70 progressive passes over the same time period, bettering the Turkish midfielder who comes in at a slighty lesser 3.56.
But, with his know-how of winning duels and being combative in the centre trumping Yokuşlu, Hayden will give Mowatt even more freedom to roam and orchestrate attacking moves whilst the Magpies man sits deep and operates as a tenacious anchor.
Praised by Ian Wright, whilst on Match of the Day, when featuring for Newcastle back in 2021 – stating that Hayden’s efforts were “brilliant” in the 3-2 win the Magpies achieved on the day – the 28-year-old will still have plenty to give the Baggies even if he’s fallen down the pecking order at St James’ Park significantly.
Even with his loan spell in Belgium not going entirely to plan, Hayden did shine on occasion for Liege – the 28-year-old only misplacing four places in total as a calm presence versus KV Mechelen back in November.
Hayden’s performance in numbers vs Mechelen
Accurate long balls
Stats by Sofascore
Strength in depth could well be key for Corberan and his Baggies side as they bid for promotion back up to the Premier League, Hayden offering the West Midlands club another dogged figure that could help that goal be achieved.