Albion will be looking to kick on from their derby day delight against a West Ham side that Big Sam is all too familiar with. It will also be a return to the London stadium for the Baggies who last season put in one of their best performances of the season to clinch victory in the cup thanks to Townsend’s wonderful strike.
It will by no means be an easy game. West Ham have surprised many this season and following a shaky start to the season seem to have settled well under Moyes as they find themselves sitting comfortably in mid table. Having lost only two league games since the start of December they have been hard to beat and clinical going forward — particularly from set plays.
West Brom go into the game riding the wave of victory in the Black Country derby. After their best performance of the season it seems as though Allardyce’s managerial methods might finally be bearing fruit.
Will the clash against West Ham prove that Albion have indeed turned a corner in their season?
Albion look as if they are getting back to full strength, however slowly this may be. Johnstone, who missed the derby due to a positive Covid test is rumoured to have been back in training towards the back end of last week so it can be expected that he may make a return. No news on Phillips who also tested positive.
Robson-Kanu came on in the later stages against Wolves so he will likely keep his place on the bench whilst Grant remains injured. We are still unsure on the extent of Diangana’s injury that saw him miss the Wolves game but it is unlikely that he will be thrown straight back in.
Albion will be bolstered by the return of Conor Gallagher who has served his suspension and will be looking to retain his place in the team. There is certainly potential for a like for like swap with Sawyers in the centre of midfield. Despite an all round great performance by the team, Sawyers yet again looked way off the pace and many are struggling to see what he offers the team at the moment.
This fixture also offers a quick return to his old club for Snodgrass who had an excellent debut against Wolves. Whilst he is not a dazzling winger his experience and defensive awareness proved crucial when seeing the game out against Wolves. A top professional, he will relish the prospect of returning back to the London Stadium. West Ham on the other hand will be keen to suppress the skills he once offered them.
Albion’s Predicted XI: (4-2-3-1)
West Ham do not have any fresh injury worries following their victory over Burnley.
Haller’s recent departure does leave West Ham with little options when it comes to a frontman, but Antonio, who bagged the only goal against Burnley, is more than capable of playing there with his excellent strength and pace when leading the line.
West Brom will also be well aware of the threat that Bowen and Benrahma pose, who both seem to be getting good runs in the team.
West Ham have been very solid at the back in recent weeks and Fabianski’s return will only boost confidence further. One of their most creative players comes in the form of their full back, Aaron Cresswell. His set piece deliveries and crossing abilities match that of Andy Robertson and has been involved in many goals this season.
The biggest benefactor of his deliveries has been fan favourite and new arrival to the Premier League, Tomas Souček. The defensive midfielder who was signed alongside compatriot Coufal has been a menace in and around the box with his aerial presence. He is certainly one that will need to be monitored closely during set piece routines as West Ham increasingly play off his strengths.
West Ham’s Predicted XI: (4-2-3-1)
The Game Plan
There is no reason why this game should not be there for the taking. West Brom came away with a deserved win in the Cup last season and they will back themselves to do the same again.
Crucially they will have to nullify the threat of Cresswell. The Hammers, as always, will be looking for him to provide balls into the box. Ogbonna, Souček, Antonio and of course Craig Dawson, who Albion know so much about, all offer goals from set piece routines. That being said, if Ajayi and Bartley show similar form to that shown against Wolves then West Ham will also be looking to counter the threat that they pose.
I expect Snodgrass will have a big role to play against his former side, particularly when keeping tabs on Cresswell who plays down the same flank. Declan Rice’s industrious work rate is one to keep an eye on — part of the reason why a switch back to Gallagher might be the opted move.
With some good attacking spells against Wolves there is reason to be hopeful that we may see some more goals. Robinson, who put in a good shift, will be looking to find space in behind the West Ham fullbacks who do like to venture, and for that reason quick counter attacking moves might be the way forward.
Pereira, who stuck true to his word, wrote his name in Albion folklore at the weekend. He will be hungry to put in another good performance and unlock a West Ham defence that that will certainly give him chances.
Expect another no nonsense display from Allardyce who will be looking to make it consecutive points on the road.
Prediction: West Ham 2-2 West Brom