West Brom fans may have a new hero in the form of Mexican striker Carlos Vela, who has scored two late equalisers in as many games to salvage two vital points and offer The Baggies a goal-scoring path out of relegation danger. 1-1 draws against Wolves and Stoke mean that the Midlands side sit in 17th and out of the dropzone, instead of in the bottom three as they would be without the gifted attacker Vela.
Given the plethora of attacking options at Arsene Wenger’s disposal, 22 year old Vela has had limited opportunities at The Emirates, with his time on the pitch reserved for fleeting brief appearances from the bench, or in the Carling Cup where The Gunners generally play a weakened team. Vela’s goalscoring record for Arsenal has been good given his restricted time on the pitch, returning 10 goals in 29 outings. The stealthy attacker has spent time on loan in Spain at Salamanca and Osasuna, which has developed his career considerably, as has his exposure on the international stage; surprisingly for such a fringe club player Vela has played 33 times for Mexico, scoring 9 goals.
Despite not being in the relegation places, make no mistake; West Brom are in trouble and in the thick of a relegation battle. Improved results and an upturn in form for Wolves and West Ham mean there is a real chance that The Baggies will be sucked back down to The Championship and will once more have to go through the hardships of making it back to English football’s top tier.
West Brom have been inconsistent this season, but both this time round in the Premiership and their last unsuccessful season in 2008-09, The Baggies have tried to play enterprising and entertaining football. Despite neat passing and long periods of possession at The Hawthornes, WBA have lacked a killer instinct up front and one of their main problems is that they have struggled to convert chances into goals. Enter Carlos Vela. The Mexican has a turn of pace, a deft touch and an eye for goal that can save West Brom from their yo-yo reputation and salvage their Premier League status.
To threaten opposing defences for the remainder of the season Roy Hodgson should partner sharpshooter Vela with Peter Odemwingie, and be rid of cumbersome and selfish Marc Antoine Fortune, whose return of a paltry five goals in the league is simply not good enough. For a team to stay up in the Premier League, they will need a frontman to return 10 goals at the very least, ideally 15, which should be enough to amass the 40 points deemed as safe. Both Odemwingie and Vela have guile where Fortune lacks, and their combined pace and ability on the ball suits West Brom’s style of passing football.
The fans at the Hawthornes have a new idol, and if West Brom are to avoid the drop Carlos Vela will have an important part to play in their survival. He has already single handedly gave the side two valuable points with his dying minute heroics in the last two outings, and if the skilful Mexican can continue to find the net The Baggies may live to see another season amongst English club football elite.