Big Sam described the programming of West Brom vs Everton as ‘disrespectful’, as the fixture bisects Albion’s key win at home to Brighton and the clash against relegation rivals Newcastle on Sunday. But if the Baggies hope to survive the drop, they’ll want to take points from an Everton side that will only have two days to prepare.
The countdown to judgement day for Albion is on, with only 12 fixtures left, the Baggies need to continue a good run of form that has seen them take points from Man U, Brighton and Burnley over the last three ties.
In the form of Everton comes a real challenge, currently sitting 7th in the table, having won two of their last five. A positive for Albion is that Everton won an end-to-end encounter with Southampton just three days prior to this West Brom clash so it may be in Ancelotti’s interest to rest players with a game against Chelsea on Monday 8th.
The Albion have only picked up one victory in their last 12 Premier League meetings with Everton (D5 L6), coming in the form of a 1-0 away win at Goodison Park in February 2016. Everton are also unbeaten in their last five away visits to the Hawthorns (W3 D2) since a 0-2 loss in September 2012.
Here’s to hoping the Baggies can take some points from an Everton side battling for European football.
Allardyce has a key decision to make ahead of Everton, which is whether to rest players now, with a view to Newcastle on Sunday, or play a full side against what could be a fatigued Everton side.
Semi Ajayi will likely make a return following a one game suspension for a sending off against Burnley, whilst Robert Snodgrass is likely to return to the side following a slight calf problem.
Kieran Gibbs could be back to fitness following a shoulder and neck injury, but is unlikely to replace Conor Townsend who has filled the role superbly following his own injury return.
The starting XI will be decided by Allardyce once he has decided which game he feels he can get the most out of. If he plays a full side, the only changes there might be would be the return of Snodgrass in place of Phillips and Ajayi retaining his place at the heart of defence.
Aside from that, an impressive Okay Yokuslu will sit just in front of the back four, whilst Pereira, Gallagher, Maitland-Niles and Snodgrass will be likely to fill the midfield, with the target man Diagne retaining his position up top.
This is of course if Allardyce chooses not to rotate, however if that is the case, Callum Robinson and Karlan Grant are just some of the names that may be given a chance to prove their worth to Allardyce.
Ancelotti left Davies, Coleman and Rodriguez out of the clash with Saints but they’re expected to return against the Albion on Thursday. Aside from that, Yerry Mina is still out, as is Jean Phillipe Gbamin and neither are expected to feature against the Albion.
In terms of formation, Everton have experimented with a number of different shapes over their previous outings, but it would be expected for them to shape up in a 4-3-1-2 as that has been Ancelotti’s preferred formation as of late.
Pickford should line up between the sticks, whilst previous Baggies loanee Mason Holgate will most likely take the right-back role. Keane and Godfrey will fill the CB roles with Mina still out and unless rested Digne should be at LB.
Rodriguez and Davies will be likely to make a return to the midfield, whilst Gomes is likely to remain as well. Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin will be likely to lead the line in attack.
Albion’s Game Plan
As with most Albion games this season, Everton will expect to dominate possession but Sam’s boys will be on the back of two clean sheets and will hope to frustrate Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin as much as possible.
Set pieces and counter attacks will most likely be the target for West Brom, with the aim of Diagne holding the ball up with runners playing off him.
Albion will hope that alongside the fatigue of only playing a few days earlier Everton will make mistakes, but we will need to take our chances when they come, something we have struggled with so far this season.
It will not be an enjoyable watch, but Albion have certainly got a chance in the game, but they will need to frustrate Everton, stay organised defensively and be patient.
If the Baggies can show the same grit and determination as they did against Man United, there is no reason why they can’t deprive Everton of an away win.
Score Prediction: 1-1
Optimistic? Maybe, but if there’s ever a time to take points from an in form Everton team, it will be now. If the Albion miraculously came away with three points, it would be the perfect way to continue the albeit late, survival push. It’s the hope that kills you.
By Will Griffin