After a relatively encouraging performance against United at the weekend, a trip up north to Burnley offers the potential of some essential points on the road. If we are to have any chance of staying up now, this is the epitome of a six-pointer.
Despite a result against an extremely strong side on Sunday, the league table still makes grim reading. The only way Big Sam can keep us up now is by picking up three points regularly (or at least far more regularly than we’ve already seen so far this season).
With Burnley, Brighton, Newcastle and Crystal Palace coming up next for the Baggies, a minimum of ten points is realistically needed to give us a chance. What better way to start than with three against Burnley then?
It may be easier said than done. After a recent run of good form, Burnley sit 15th in the table, giving themselves some breathing room from the drop zone below. They’re now eight points clear of the relegation places, as a result of some good wins against Crystal Palace and Aston Villa.
Sean Dyches’s men are unbeaten in three league games, but fellow strugglers Fulham held them to a draw on Wednesday night. Here’s hoping we can go one better.
A bit of selection news away from the two sides firstly, as Mike Dean returns to referee our game this weekend, after missing the previous round of fixtures at his own request. 52-year-old Dean notified Police on 8th February of the abusive messages and threats his family had received, after sending off Soucek and Bednarek in his previous two games.
Love him or hate him, abuse can never be tolerated in football. Mike Dean is a real character of the game and it’s good to see him back.
From this weekend’s performance, it’s highly unlikely Allardyce is going to change much in terms of team selection. Grady Diangana remains a doubt due to injury and Lee Peltier looks doubtful after being forced off against United.
As a result, we’ve predicted a similar 4-1-4-1 formation, with just the one change of Darnell Furlong coming in for Lee Peltier at right-back.
We predict Allardyce to line up with Johnstone between the sticks as usual, who can hopefully get us out of more trouble with his acrobatics. Then, in defence from left-to right; Townsend, Bartley, Ajayi and Furlong.
Okay Yokuslu should keep his place in front of the defenders, with Pereira, Gallagher, Maitland-Niles and Snodgrass making up a midfield four.
Finally, Diagne should retain his position up top after his first goal for us at the weekend. The six-foot four target-man offers the aerial threat we’ve been missing so far this season, but will look to be more clinical in his upcoming games.
Albion’s Predicted XI:
Moving attentions to our opponents, Burnley have various key players that may be doubtful for the weekend.
The Clarets will find out the status of Robbie Brady and Johann Berg Gudmundsson shortly before the game, after Gudmundsson suffered an injury against Fulham and Brady picked up a knock.
Ben Mee is expected to be back in the team after an absence due to injury, whilst former Baggie Matej Vydra could also return to the squad.
Playing a more ‘traditional’ style of football (something rare in the Premier League these days) Dyche often sets his team up in a 4-4-2 formation.
As a result, we’ve predicted a team of: Nick Pope in goal, a back four of Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee and Charlie Taylor. Then in Midfield we’ve gone for Johan Gudmundsson, Jack Cork, Ashley Westwood and Dwight McNeil. Finally, up-top the strike pairing of Ashley Barnes and Baggies favourite Jay Rodriguez.
Burnley’s Predicted XI:
Score Prediction: Burnley 1-2 West Brom
Somewhat optimistically, after some improved performances, I’m backing us in this one. The boys have got nothing to lose at this point, most have written us off already. With the new energy brought in by the loanees, and weaker opposition, an away win may be on the cards. Did somebody say Great Escape?