There has been a definite improvement in West Brom’s style of play under Sam Allardyce, as seen in particular during the 3-2 win over rivals Wolves, but Albion will need luck on their side to get much out of this fixture against title-chasing Manchester City.
A win against the Baggies will see City rise to first place on 41 points, eclipsing their Manchester counterparts by a single point.
For Albion, meanwhile, a draw would put them level on points with Fulham but they would remain in 19th because of goal difference; and a win, although very unlikely, would get them 14 points in total, seeing them go above Fulham — though it is important to note that the London side have two games in hand.
Team News and Predicted XIs
Karlan Grant and Matty Phillips are set to return for this fixture, after Grant was sidelined with a foot injury and Phillips received a positive Covid-19 test.
Meanwhile, Conor Townsend is still unavailable as he recovers from a knee injury.
As for the team selection, we believe things will largely stay the same, except for the formation, which will naturally be switched to one that’s more defensive in order to cope with Manchester City’s offensive pressure.
In-between the sticks will be Sam Johnstone, behind a back-four of Kieran Gibbs, Kyle Bartley, Semi Ajayi and Darnell Furlong.
In midfield, a flat four of Kamil Grosicki, Romaine Sawyers, Jake Livermore and Robert Snodgrass.
Diangana could be dropped to the bench, with Grosicki taking his place, as the Poland international appears to have made a good impression on Allardyce so far. Conor Gallagher is likely to be selected for this game but it depends on how defensively Big Sam wants to be; Livermore can sit deeper than Gallagher and arguably operates at a higher level in those areas.
In an attacking midfielder role could be Matheus Pereira, behind the lone striker: Callum Robinson.
Albion’s Predicted XI: (4-4-1-1)
Man City have been dealt a hammer blow with Kevin de Bruyne’s injury, which could see him sidelined until late February.
Sergio Aguero is also out following a positive Covid-19 test, but Kyle Walker and Nathan Ake are predicted to return.
Aymeric Laporte is also back for selection after he made his injury comeback in the FA Cup last weekend.
Pep Guardiola will want revenge for dropping two points against Albion last time out, so we should expect there to be an emphasis on attack from City.
Ederson in goal with a flat back four of Joao Cancelo, John Stones, Ruben Dias and Kyle Walker is already an incredibly strong set-up, and with a midfield three of Ilkay Gundogan, Rodri and Phil Foden ahead of them, you can see that Albion will have their work cut out getting past them.
An attacking trio of Raheem Sterling, Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez will keep our defence on their toes all evening, no doubt, but if we display the same resilience and determination as last time, we stand a chance of keeping them out.
Man City’s Predicted XI: (4-3-3)
West Brom 1-2 Manchester City
We predict an early penalty will be awarded to Albion, which will be converted by Pereira. Albion will keep the lead until just before half-time when City equalise, before a goal in the 70th – 80th minute mark from a player like Sterling will dash our hopes of picking up points.