West Bromwich Albion will entertain Stoke City at the Hawthorns on the final day of what has been a remarkable season of English top flight at both ends of the table. The Midlands club, with just 7 wins all season, managed to stay out of the relegation zone they were flirting with since the turn of new year.
A win for West Brom might see them leapfrog a few teams in Hull, Villa and Sunderland, provided they all drop points on the final day. Stoke City could see themselves finish in the top half of the table for the first time in the Premier League era and a win here would help them reach the 50-point mark for the first time in English top flight.
West Brom have lost the last two games after a crucial 1-0 win at home against West Ham and Pepe Mel should be determined to end the season on a winning note. They have had the fewest wins (7) alongside Cardiff City, a side that is relegated and currently sits at the foot of the table. With 15 draws and 15 losses the Baggies would want to give their fans something to shout on the final day.
Stoke City have had a solid season under Mark Hughes. With just 3 defeats at home, scoring 27 goals and conceding just 17, they have stuck to their guns this season as they always do. Three points at the Hawthorns could lift them above Newcastle United provided the Magpies drop points in their final game of the season.
Pepe Mel will have a few injury problems going into this game. Zoltan Gera and Steven Reid are major doubts for the final home game and the latter was forced off due to a niggling groin problem at half-time in their previous game against Sunderland.
While the Baggies kept Billy Jones sidelined for a second successive game as a precaution, after he only recently returned from a hamstring injury.
“Jones didn’t make the trip and Olsson, we’re saving him because there was a great risk he wouldn’t be able to play against Stoke City,” said Pepe Mel in his pre-match press meet.
- With 10 wins and 6 draws Stoke City would finish 6th if only the home games are counted this season. Whilst they would be relegated (18th) if only the away games were considered.
- West Bromwich won just 1 of its last 5 home games scoring 8 goals and conceding 10. (D1 L3)
- West Bromwich Albion scored 22 0f their 42 goals in either the first 15 or the final 15 minutes this season.
- While Stoke City have scored most of their goals (12) just before halftime (31-45) and conceded a major chunk of goals (13) at the start of 2nd half (45-60).
West Brom – Saido Berahino
Berahino, a product of Albion’s youth academy, has had a good first season with the Baggies. Opening his goal-scoring account with a memorable winner at Old Trafford, he’s continued to score to take his tally to 5 goals this season that has made him the top scorer in the team now. He’s a lad that is not afraid to take shots and he’s taken 55 shots so far with 16 of them directed towards goal. He’s converted 50% of the clear-cut chances laid to him and has created a total of 16 chances himself. One could expect better things from this player in the future and he can certainly play a key role in this fixture for the Birmingham-based outfit come Sunday.
Stoke City – Stephen Ireland
Stephen Ireland has come good in recent days and reminded us of his quality that made him a fan favorite at Manchester City. He has 2 goals and 2 assists to his name and created 25 chances – 15 from open play and 8 from set play. He’s converted just 20% of the clear cut chances but boasts a very good overall passing accuracy of 82%. He keeps the midfield ticking over for Stoke and his recent form suggests he could be very vital in Sunday’s game for the visitors.
This game might not have much at stake besides the obvious 3 points. Both the sides have pretty much done what they had to and so this game could be lacking the excitement and drive the fans are normally used to. West Brom play their final game in front of their fans and will want to end their topsy-turvy campaign with a good win whilst Stoke may fancy their chances of finishing above Newcastle United. Hence, I’m going for a stalemate.