West Brom welcome Hull City to The Hawthorns on Saturday with this being the first match since The Baggies sacked previous manager Steve Clarke. Although West Brom impressively finished the season in 8th position, he had only picked up 37 points from 38 games in 2013 so far which is bordering on relegation form. The West Brom hierarchy felt that the team wasn’t going forward under Clarke and ultimately took the decision to place him on gardening leave, with Keith Downing standing in until a new manager takes over.Having lost four out of the last five games, with only two wins at home so far and sitting dangerously above the relegation zone in 16th place, West Brom fans will hope that the new manager will bring some much needed impetus and motivation going into the second half of the season.
Hull City come into the game in 12th place, with fans quietly happy with the progress so far even though they are just six points off the relegation places. Considering the league is so tight at both ends of the table, points gained during this busy period will be vital in the long run, especially against the teams within the bottom half of the table. Hull have four points from their eight away games so far this season and have only won two games overall since September. With matters behind the scenes have taking centre stage in recent weeks, the Hull City owner hasn’t quite impressed the fans just as yet having just applied for a name change which has been met with disapproval. Manager Steve Bruce will expect a good performance from his side with West Brom going through a rough patch and will feel as though this is a good opportunity for a rare away victory.
These two teams have only met twice in the Premier League back in the 2008/2009 season in which Hull City won convincingly away at The Hawthorns with a 3-0 victory.
Anichebe, Anelka and Foster are all pencilled in for return against Hull City but whether they start is a different matter. Stand-in manager Keith Downing has nearly all of his players available for selection but may tinker with the starting 11 according to who has impressed him during the week in training.
Hull have only Aluko sidelined with a long-term injury so Steve Bruce has most of his first team players available for selection. He may opt to play three at the back to add an extra attacker or midfielder to create more of an attacking threat. Robert Koren is likely to play against his former team who he spent three years with.
- The last meeting between the two was in 2009 and that was a 2-2 draw
- There have been 3 or more goals in 8 of the Baggies’ last 11 home matches against middle-third teams.
- Hull have scored only once in their last 273 minutes of Premier League action.
- On the other hand, West Brom have now gone three hours without a Premier League goal.
- Hull have conceded the opening goal in all but 1 of their away games this season.
- Hull have also won their last 2 league trips away at West Brom.
- The Tigers have lost by 2 or more goals in 50% of their away games.
- West Brom have had a league-high 5 shots cleared off the line this season in the Premier League.
- The Baggies have lost each of their last four Premier League games. They have not lost five in a row since January 2011.
West Brom: Morgan Amalfitano
Almalfitano has been one of the stand-out performers in this West Brom who have under-achieved so far this season. Although his displays have not been as impressive in recent weeks, he has done enough to show that he has the quality to change a game when given the opportunity. So far scoring 2 goals, including the memorable solo run and goal against Man United, as well as 2 assists has him one of the most creative players within the team. He has also produced 102 crosses with 29% of them being accurate so any aerial threat in the box for West Brom is likely to get service from the Frenchman. Creating a total of 28 chances so far, the most in the team, he has also a passing accuracy of 77% with 641 touches of the ball so far. West Brom will hope that he can produce and show the quality of performance he had within the first few games of the season.
Hull City: Danny Graham
Graham will be relieved to be finally on the score-sheet after a difficult time since arriving at the KC Stadium. Having scored against his former club Swansea, Graham will be aiming to firstly nail down a first team place having been in and out of the squad so far this season. West Brom will be wary of the goal-poaching threat of Graham from his time at Swansea and know that if he receives good service from midfield, he is likely to cause problems up front. So far this season he has averaged a shot every 87 minutes and a shot on target every 157 minutes which is poor by his standard and will want to improve on this stat. He has had four headed opportunities at goal so far and will be a threat from set-pieces and corners. With Hull likely to play Graham alongside Yannick Sagbo, if they can build a good understanding within the game, they will able to challenge a West Brom defence who have been leaking goals this season.
This game is definitely crucial with both teams desperate for the three points to push as far away as they can from the bottom three places. Saying that, both teams will also feel that this is a game that they’d rather not lose so a point for each would not be a disastrous result for either team. However, with the latest departure of Steve Clarke, The Baggies fans will do their best to get behind their team and I think that they may be able to snatch a win against Hull on Saturday.