Ajayi’s West Bromwich Albion end wait for first Premier League victory

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Semi Ajayi of West Bromwich Albion
ANDREW COULDRIDGE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
The Baggies secured three points for the first time this season when they dispatched Sheffield United 1-0 on Saturday

Semi Ajayi and West Bromwich Albion ended their wait for a first Premier League victory of the season as they dispatched Sheffield United 1-0 on Saturday.

A relegation dogfight between two of the early-season strugglers was settled in the 13th minute with Conor Gallagher’s first goal in his last 34 league games for the Baggies, leaving the Blades as the only club in the top flight without a win so far this campaign.

The triumph takes the Albion up to six points after 10 matches, taking them out of the relegation zone and one point ahead of Burnley, who were defeated 5-0 by Manchester City earlier in the day.

Defeat leaves Sheffield United bottom of the pile, with only one point from their first 10 matches, and having lost their last five league games.

Ajayi again impressed in the hosts’ back three alongside Branislav Ivanovic and Kyle Bartley, although on several occasions he had to rely on goalkeeper Sam Johnstone to preserve the Throstles’ clean sheet.

The 39 shots taken in the match was the joint most in any Premier League match so far this term during an open contest, with the Blades taking 22 of those efforts against the hosts’ 17th.

He’s made nine appearances so far this season, adapting quickly to life in the top flight having never previously featured at this level during his career.

The versatile defensive player—who has represented Nigeria’s Super Eagles in midfield during recent international breaks—was playing in the third tier of English football as recently as 2018, and was employed down in the fifth tier of the pyramid seven years ago.

The 27-year-old was on Arsenal’s books between 2013 and 2015, but despite impressing Arsene Wenger, didn’t make the breakthrough at the Emirates Stadium.

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The star performer for the Baggies on the day was Matheus Pereira, who broke this season’s league record for chances created during a match by setting up nine goalscoring opportunities for his teammates.

It eclipses Hakim Ziyech’s recent creative masterclass for Chelsea against the same opponent, and represents the most chances created by a single player in a single top flight fixture since Kevin De Bruyne against Norwich City four months ago.

 

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