New signing Ahmed Hegazy scored the only goal of the game as West Brom kicked-off their Premier League campaign with victory over Bournemouth.
Hegazy, on loan from Egyptian side Al Ahly, took advantage of ponderous defending to head the ball past Asmir Begovic just after the half-hour mark.
The Cherries, who have now lost all three of their opening-day top-flight fixtures, enjoyed the lion’s share of possession but fashioned too few goal scoring chances on what was a difficult afternoon for them.
Here are three things we learnt at The Hawthorns…
Tried and trusted method works again for Pulis
Tony Pulis is not exactly renowned as a revolutionary coach. His tactics are simple – to keep it tight at the back and try to dominate the aerial battles. The Baggies had just 29 per cent of possession against Bournemouth but still created 16 chances compared to the visitors’ nine.
In truth, Pulis’ side never looked under serious pressure and were able to contain the Cherries to speculative efforts which did not test keeper Ben Foster. Scoring the first goal is crucial for this game-plan to work and this fixture followed that script.
Against better teams there are obvious limitations and this is a constant source of complaint from supporters who would like to see a more expansive style.
However, three points was the ideal start to the Baggies’ season and gives them a platform upon which to build.
Bournemouth’s set-piece woes will concern Howe
Eddie Howe no doubt expected his players to be subjected to an aerial bombardment – but they were unable to counter-act it in what can only be described as a pedestrian performance. Bournemouth conceded from set-pieces in the corresponding fixture last season and in general have issues from dead-ball situations.
Pulis’ side ruthlessly exposed this weakness. In terms of height, the Cherries are one of the smaller teams in the Premier League, but seeing a couple of his players lose their men for the goal would have annoyed Howe. Another concern would be just how few chances his side created despite dominating the ball.
Jordon Ibe made an impression when he came on as a second-half substitute, but with the Cherries chasing the game in the latter stages, urgency seemed to be in short supply.
New signings give reason for optimism for both clubs
The transfer window is still open and more additions are expected, but both managers will have been encouraged by the displays of their debutants.
Hegazy grabbed the headlines thanks to his winning goal but striker Jay Rodriquez, signed from Premier League rivals Southampton, also impressed in a West Brom shirt.
For Bournemouth, Begovic made a couple of smart saves to limit the damage and Nathan Ake, who joined from Chelsea on a permanent basis after a loan spell last season, was arguably the stand-out performer for the visitors.
There was no place in the starting XI for Jermain Defoe, who has been suffering from a niggling injury, but he is sure to become a key player for Bournemouth.