Both managers will be looking at this match as an opportunity to pick up points after succumbing to title challengers in mid-week. Chris Hughton remains under pressure, especially after being heavily beaten by Liverpool. Whereas, Steve Clarke’s job remains stable as he has made West Brom hard to beat, but in recent weeks they have started to leak goals. He will want to address this quickly as the games keep coming over the Christmas period, and they can’t afford to keep conceding as easily as they have been. West Brom only have one more point than their visitors Norwich.
West Brom are 13th in the table at the moment, four points off the top half and five points off the relegation zone. They will be hoping to win this match as they have been slipping down the table in recent weeks and they won’t want to be dragged into the relegation battle. They have lost their last two matches, but showed incredible fight against Manchester City as they scored two late goals after going 3-0 down. The Baggies have only won 3 from 14 matches this season and this needs to improve if they are going to get a top ten finish.
Norwich are 16th after a poor start, but they can go above West Brom with a win on Saturday. They have won two of the their last four games, but they lost the other two, showing the inconsistent form of Norwich. They have had a tough run recently with trips to Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal ending in heavy defeats. To be fair to Chris Hughton’s men, they came up against Manchester City in fine form and Luis Suarez was unplayable on Wednesday night. Norwich will be in the relegation battle this season, as their team just isn’t strong enough. It’s in games like this, that they have to avoid defeat or they could find themselves slipping into the bottom three as their rivals are starting to pick up points.
Last season, both matches between the two provided goals and there was a win for each side. In the corresponding fixture, West Brom came out on top 2-1, with Zolten Gera and Romulu Lukaku getting the goals, while Robert Snodgrass scored for Norwich. At Carrow Road, Norwich ran riot with a 4-0 win. Snodgrass, Grant Holt, Jonny Howson and an own goal contributed to the home side’s success that day.
West Brom have only won once in their last 8 fixtures. They will be hoping to start turning draws into wins soon otherwise they could be dragged into the relegation fight.
Norwich have conceded 18 goals in their last 4 away matches. They will need to tighten up on the road or they will be relying on their home form to keep them in the division.
Claudio Yacob will be key for West Brom in this match as the home team will enjoy the majority of possession and the Argentinian likes to dictate the tempo. His pass completion rate of 88.13% is impressive and his attacking intent is shown by the fact that the majority of his passes (34%) go forwards. He has formed a formidable central midfield partnership with Youssouf Mulumbu for the Baggies, which provides the team with a strong base to build on. If they are to get out of the rut they appear to be in, Yacob will have to start asserting himself on matches more and he definitely has the ability to do that. His role is to get the ball to the attacking players and if he does this frequently on Saturday, West Brom will have a great opportunity to win.
Leroy Fer has been one of Norwich’s rare bright spots so far this season. He is a box to box midfielder who can cause a lot of damage to opposition defences. Also he doesn’t shirk away from the hard yards as he is often seen helping out his defence. If he continues to impress, bigger clubs will become interested and that was obviously the Dutchman’s motivation when signing for Norwich, after a move to Everton fell through in January. He has created 14 chances, and has got one assist to his name which isn’t bad considering he is playing in a struggling team. He has also scored two goals, highlighting his threat.
Mulumbu will return after serving a one match suspension for picking up 5 yellow cards. Nicolas Anelka (groin) and Scott Sinclair (hamstring) are doubts for the match. Ben Foster remains on the sidelines with an ankle injury so Boaz Myhill will continue in goal for the Baggies. George Thorne is on the long term injury list with an ACL knee injury. Saido Berahino will be hoping he keeps his place in the starting line up, while Victor Anichebe will be pushing for a start after netting his first goal for the club against Manchester City.
Norwich have one of the biggest injury lists in the league. Snodgrass won’t be available to play against the team he enjoyed success against last season. Anthony Pilkington is not going to play again until the new year, while Alex Tettey, Elliott Bennett, Mark Bunn and Ricky van Wolfswinkel are all going to be missing for the trip to West Brom.
It’s going to be a very scrappy match against two teams struggling in recent weeks. Hughton desperately needs to climb the table as his job will be continue to be precarious if Norwich stay near the foot of the league. West Brom will see Norwich as a team they should be taking three points from and the pressure on Clarke could begin to increase if he fails to win. I think it’s going to be a tight game with few goals, unlike the two matches last season. It will be a draw.