Saturday, December 20, 2008

West Brom v Manchester City preview

Venue: The Hawthorns Date: Sunday, 21 December Kick-off: 13:00 GMT

The first of a trio of games over the Christmas period which could either leave us in a genuine relegation scrap or lift us into a mid-table position where we can hopefully recover what has been an underwhelming first half to the season.

Although we are facing a West Brom side who are bottom of the table and without a win in ten games, we do have very little confidence heading into this game given recent results (particularly away from home) and with reports of disharmony in the camp.

Speaking to a West Brom fan at work though, he is approaching the game with even less confidence and is anticipating them being relegated. Given their lack of goals and hammering at managerless Sunderland last week, the game should be ours for the taking if we can throw off the shackles of our recent poor form.

Robinho is likely to miss out, but Richard Dunne will return to the line-up in what I imagine will not see many changes given the lack of options we have. The only real decision I see facing Hughes is the choice of who will lead the line, and perhaps given Caicedo's cameo on Thursday he should given an opportunity given the lack of success elsewhere?

Team news:

West Brom central defender Leon Barnett has recovered from a knee injury.

Roman Bednar is also pushing for a recall, while James Morrison and Borja Valero have been ill but are expected to recover in time to play.

Manchester City skipper Richard Dunne is expected to return after missing the Uefa Cup defeat in Spain on Thursday to deal with a family matter.

Robinho suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury against Racing Santander and faces a late fitness check.

Match stats:
  • West Brom have won taken 11 points off us in the Premir League. More than against any other club.
  • West Brom have gone ten matches without a clean sheet and failed to score in 4 of their last 6 games.
  • We have our lowest Premier League points tally after 17 games since 2000/01 - when we were eventually relegated.
  • We have won every game this season where we have kept a clean sheet.
We are not know for having too much success when featured live on TV, and there is a real danger that coming away with a defeat will leave us in the bottom three and really begin to expose some cracks.

The key to victory for me will be Ireland and Wright-Phillips, and if they have good days we will be good value for all three points so with that in mind I'll go for a 2-1 victory.

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