This coming Saturday, West Bromwich Albion welcome Cardiff City for a relegation six pointer. Both clubs find themselves separated by three league places and three league points. West Brom have only won one of their last ten, a win that was Pepe Mel’s first as manager. Last weekend saw them suffer a 2-0 defeat away to Hull, instantly bringing down the high from a first victory in long period the week before. They will have to get themselves up for the battle against Cardiff, a game that will not need much motivation as a win will go a long way to helping them stay up. Cardiff have also not had the best of spells of late. The Bluebirds were beaten 6-3 at home by Liverpool last weekend, and only have one win in their last seven league games. This will be a game they feel they can take all three points in.
West Brom received some good news ahead of the fixture. Gareth McAuley, Diego Lugano and Morgan Amalfitano are all likely to return after recovering from injuries. Lugano and Amalfitano return after both suffering from knee injuries. McAuley suffered an ankle injury last weekend at Hull, but should be fit to return this weekend. West Brom will be missing Chris Brunt (Knee), Victor Anichebe (Hamstring), Billy Jones (Hamstring) and Claudio Yacob (Hamstring).
Cardiff will be without midfielder Craig Noone who is missing with a muscle injury. They will also be without defender Mark Hudson is suffering from a hamstring problem. Defender Andrew Taylor could be fit enough to return to the squad after recovering from a knock.
When the teams met earlier in the season, Cardiff came out 1-0 winners at the Cardiff City Stadium with Peter Whittingham scoring the only goal. That was the first meeting between the two in the Premier League and was the first time they have met in the top flight of English football since March 1962.
The last time the teams met in a league fixture, in the Championship, at the Hawthorns, Cardiff also triumphed in a 2-0 victory. Jonas Olsson, Youssef Mulumbu, Chris Brunt and Graeme Dorrans all remain for the Baggies from that day. Cardiff also have some survivors in David Marshall, Mark Hudson, Kevin McNaughton and Peter Whittingham. Whittingham managed to get on the score sheet again that day for the Bluebirds. In fact, Whittingham has scored in his last three appearances against West Brom, but has not featured much in recent weeks under new manager Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer.
Stephane Sessegnon has had a mixed season since arriving at the Hawthorns in late August. He was seen as a player to make things happen at his former club Sunderland, and a move to West Brom looked like it would be a good one for his career. The Baggies have not had a great season and through injury Sessegnon has not been as involved as he would of liked. He has only contributed one assist this season and has scored just three goals. In comparison, during the 2011/12 season, his best for Sunderland, he contributed nine assists and scored seven goals. This shows the influence that he can have when firing. Sessegnon scored upon his return to fitness in the Baggies’ win at Swansea. If he can score a few more vital goals between now and the end of the season, he will go some way to proving that he still has the ability he once showed in his prime at Sunderland.
Despite Cardiff losing to Liverpool last week, Jordon Mutch put in a good performance for his side. The midfielder managed to score two goals and an assist in a performance that would have been lauded in any other fixture. After not managing to score once in the Championship last season, Mutch has six goals to his name. This makes him the Bluebirds joint top scorer with Frazer Campbell the only other to match his total. He has also contributed six assists, which is an excellent return for a player in his first full season in the top flight. He has contributed the joint most assists for his team alongside Peter Whittingham. Mutch’s assists are due to him often being the point linking the midfield and attack for his side. This is evidenced by the fact he has attempted the most through balls in the team with eight. After the season he has had so far, he is going to be an important player for the Bluebirds heading into the final stretch of the season.
It will definitely be a very competitive match. With both teams at the bottom, it is likely to be tight affair with only the odd goal in it. This is a game that both teams will feel they should win. Cardiff have the worst away record in the Premier League this season, picking up only six points. West Brom have the third worst home record in the league, so Cardiff will believe they have a chance. I predict a 1-1 draw for this one.