Match Preview: West Brom v Stoke City

We head to the Hawthorns this weekend to face 8th placed West Brom.

I spoke with @AlexRobNewton from @ReadWestBrom ahead of this weekend’s clash. Giving us some insight on what’s happening in the other half.

Firstly, it’s got to be the elephant in the room. Saido Berahino. What’s the general feeling amongst the Albion fans, and do they think that this was the ideal move for the fans?

The general feeling is one of relief. The nigh on two-year saga is finally over, and we can at last enter a transfer window with all the talk being about Saido.

It was always going to be difficult to pick the ideal move for Saido, without having any recent form it’s hard to tell if the quality is still there. It’s a little annoying we sold to a local club.

Another quick question about him. His highest and lowest point as a West Brom player?

His highest has to be scoring the winner at Old Trafford when he first burst onto the scene. It was a brilliant finish which saw him made national headlines.

The lowest? Take your pick out of the last 18 months. Drink driving, drugs, tweeting, fitness.

Of course, another player may well be facing his former club too. Marc Wilson joined on loan. What’s the general impression with this signing? Do you think you need him or did Pulis push for a player he used to work with?

Albion fans were a little underwhelmed with the loan signing of Wilson and have seemed to write him off already. It very much seems a panic buy on deadline day. The positives are much-needed cover at the back, and he fits into a Pulis system.

Last time we played, it ended 1-1, with Rondon scoring in the 91st min. Do you think it will be that close again this time around and why?

The table doesn’t lie at this stage of the season and with just one place separating the sides it’s easy to see how balanced they are. The squad quality is similar with 2 or 3 standout players in each side. It’s very easy to see the same result the weekend.

What West Brom player should Stoke be wary of and why?

Matt Phillips. The summer signing from QPR has been on fire for the Baggies. Every time he picks up the ball, it looks like something good is going to happen. Allan Nyom’s attacks from fullback are also another thing for Stoke to keep an eye on.

Also, is a there a Stoke player who you think Pulis needs to pay particular attention too?

I really like Joe Allen and think he can dictate a game from midfield. The obvious one of late is Peter Crouch who is in great form. Hopefully Pulis’ tactics will be able to deal with his ariel threat, although the absence of Jonny Evans will be a huge blow.

Stoke are going into this game off the back of two 1-1 draws. Effectively dropping four points, thanks to an Allen foul and a Shawcross own goal. Mark Hughes will be looking to get three points against the side sitting directly above us and only four points ahead.

The last game saw Crouch continue his run of form and scored his 100th PL goal. And to top it off, he answered @TBPTV’s prayers and he did #BRINGBACKTHEROBOT. If the Potters can produce the kind of quality, that we’ve seen on this four PL match unbeaten streak, I’m sure we can grab a result. Although, saying that, we haven’t beaten our West Midland rivals since a 2-0 win on 28th December 2014.

This season we have dropped fourteen points from games in which we were ahead. We’ve been playing well recently, just sloppy mistakes are dropping us important points. If Mark Hughes is serious about 7th, something does need to change. Dropping four points to teams in the immediate three teams above us.

The Baggies have won nine games at home this season, with the Potters winning seven on the road. I’m surprisingly optimistic about this game, I feel that the last few weeks have been a much better show. If we continue our recent form, and tighten up at the back, we should come away with a win.

I do hope that Saido does start, but that’s the child in me wanting him to score against his old club. I do think though we should give him a few weeks to settle in before we start getting ahead of ourselves.

My predicted line-up is: Grant, Bardsley, Shawcross, Indi, Pieters, Allen, Whelan, Marko, Afellay, Crouch and Sadio.

Tweet us or comment your score predictions.

Words by Benito Fisher

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