West Brom are preparing for their first away fixture of the Premier League season and face a tough trip to Goodison park against a new-look, dangerous Everton side.
The Toffees won their first game of the season 1-0 away at Tottenham Hotspur, while Albion were comprehensively beaten 3-0 at home by Leicester City.
Carlo Ancelotti will be hoping for more of the same from his side, while Slaven Bilic will be eager to see a positive shift in mentality from his players to help earn his first point(s) in the Premier League as West Brom manager.
Albion have made two additions since the Leicester game, bringing in ex-Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic on a one-year deal and current Chelsea midfielder Conor Gallagher on a season-long loan.
The England U21 international impressed on loan at Charlton and Swansea City last year and will undoubtedly add much needed energy in midfield. It is unlikely Gallagher will feature against Everton, though, having been at the club for less than 48 hours.
The Toffees have clearly prioritised their midfield in what has proved to be a busy summer transfer window.
Ancelotti is moulding his infamous midfield diamond around the three new signings: Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure and James Rodriguez.
Rodriguez looked particularly impressive against Spurs last weekend. Seemingly, he is the attacking midfield presence Everton have been crying out for, akin to Bruno Fernandes for Manchester United.
Team News and Predicted XI:
Kenneth Zohore remains Albion’s only long-term absentee with a calf problem. It also remains to be seen whether Ahmed Hegazi will be fit in time for the trip to Goodison park.
Bilic confirmed Hegazi has a slight hamstring injury, though the damage does not appear worrying.
Conor Townsend made his return to action in the Wednesday night EFL Cup tie against Harrogate Town, and completed the full 90 minutes. He could be in contention for a place in the match-day squad on Saturday.
Bilic surprised us all with a 3-4-3 formation against Leicester and will likely stick with it against a very dangerous Everton side.
It suited Albion for almost 60 minutes of the game, yet Bilic reverted back to a 4-2-3-1 following Leicester’s goal. It is clear, though, the recent loss was less to do with the formation than it was individual errors.
Bilic may opt for Cedric Kipre in place of Kyle Bartley as the third centre-back, following his mistake leading to Jamie Vardy’s penalty.
Kipre slotted in seamlessly against EFL newcomers Harrogate Town with a solid, composed performance and could be rewarded with his Premier League debut.
Barring any tactical genius from Bilic, the rest of the side will remain unchanged.
Albion’s Predicted XI: (3-4-3)
Michael Keane and Yerry Mina are the only two centre-backs fit and available for Ancelotti at the moment.
Former Albion loanee Mason Holgate remains sidelined with a toe injury, and Jarrad Braithwaite picked up an ankle problem during the EFL Cup win over Salford on Wednesday.
Fabian Delph, Cenk Tousin and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin also remain unavailable for this match.
Everton made widrespread changes for the midweek cup game, but Ancelotti is expected to field the same XI that punished Spurs last Sunday.
Everton’s Predicted XI: (4-1-2-1-2)
The Game Plan
Bilic will be hoping his side can play as well as they did in the first 30 minutes of their Premier League season, and keep Everton at bay as well as they had done for the first 60.
Bilic reiterated his desire to use a 3-4-3 formation for defensive solidity in his post-match press conference. He also stressed the importance of Albion not changing their mentality should they go 1-0 down at Goodison Park.
This should come as second nature to the Baggies, given the amount of points that were recovered from losing positions during the 2019/20 season.
West Brom will have their work cut out keeping Champions League winner James Rodriguez quiet, and will undoubtedly have a tough job getting past Allan and Doucoure when on the attack.
Albion must therefore play to their current strengths and hope to hit Everton on the counter-attack, utilising the blistering pace of Callum Robinson and supreme skill of Grady Diangana and Matheus Pereira.
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