West Brom vs Manchester City | Team News, Stats and Key Men

West Brom vs Manchester City | Team News, Stats and Key Men

Boxing Day is a huge day in the footballing calender, with every Premier League team in action. The Christmas period can shape a side’s season, but the constant stream of games give them the opportunity to bounce back quickly from a bad result, or build momentum and see themselves rise up the table. Both of these sides have different aims this season. West Brom want to put as many points between them and the bottom three as they can, while Manchester City continue to put pressure on early leaders Chelsea. Although games against teams like Chelsea and Manchester City fill fans with dread, with the games coming quick over this period, there is the opportunity to get a good result.

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West Brom were starting to turn their form around with a draw against Hull and a win over local rivals Aston Villa with two clean sheets as well, but a disappointing loss against QPR at the weekend has put West Brom right back in the mire. They are languishing just two points above the drop zone, and with the inexperience of Alan Irvine, Baggies’ fans will fear the worst if they fall into the bottom three. It’s getting to the point in the season that boards will start to make decisions about managers, especially if they are in danger of relegation. West Brom’s recent form hasn’t been great and they may be tempted to bring in a more experienced manager like Tony Pulis if it doesn’t improve. Even with their coaching system, they may make an exception as retaining their Premier League status is the important thing for the club.

Meanwhile, their opponents Manchester City have recovered well after their crisis at the end of October. Many wrote them off, but now they are in the knockout rounds of the Champions League and they are hot on Chelsea’s tail in the title race. Manuel Pellegrini has to be applauded for this turnaround after many questioned him during the side’s slump in form. Even with the injury to key man Sergio Aguero, City have managed to continue to get wins in the league, some have been prettier than others, but the most important thing is to get the three points in any way possible. They are certainly title contenders, and it’s a lot tougher to retain the title than it is to win it, and City aren’t favourites to be lifting the trophy in May, but at least they are genuine contenders. They weren’t that in October.

Last season, the away side were victorious, but a late fightback from West Brom made it a nervy finish for the champions. Sergio Aguero and Yaya Toure (2) got the goals for the visitors, while Costel Pantilimon (og) and  Victor Anichebe were on the scoresheet for West Brom. In the reverse fixture, Manchester City prevailed again by a scoreline of 3-1. Pablo Zabaleta, Martin Demichelis and Sergio Aguero scored for the home side, while Graham Dorrans scored the consolation goal for West Brom.

Interesting Stats

Manchester City have won their last six matches, keeping four clean sheets in the process. At the start of the season, their defence was criticised, but they have recovered well and they are now very difficult to beat.

West Brom have struggled to score goals in recent weeks, managing only four in their last seven matches. Saido Berahino was the main goal threat at the start of the season and they have struggled since his goals dried up.

Key Men

Lescott

Joleon Lescott has been key for West Brom since joining on a free transfer from Manchester City and he will be keen to give a good performance against his old club. It isn’t completely out of the question for him to earn an England recall as we are short of centre-backs at the moment. There is no doubt about his ability, but his last couple of years as a back up at Manchester City led to him falling out of favour internationally. West Brom have benefited from his experience this season, and on Saturday he showed his ability from set pieces as he scored the opening goal against QPR. On Friday, he will be key as Manchester City will dominate proceedings and West Brom will require a good performance from their centre half if they are to keep the visitors at bay.

Silva

Without the goalscoring quality of Sergio Aguero, Manchester City have relied on quality of service rather than Aguero’s ability to score goals out of nothing. Both Samir Nasri and David Silva have been brilliant, which is a big reason why City have been able to catch up with Chelsea. They missed Silva’s quality behind Aguero when the Spaniard was out injured, and they will be excited about getting the two back on the pitch at the same time in the near future. Silva is arguably the best creative midfielder in the league, with four assists already and he can chip in with goals too, having scored twice this season. The Spaniard rarely loses the ball with a pass completion rate of 87.2%, which is incredible considering the positions in which he has the ball.

Team News

Victor Anichebe and Chris Brunt are both doubts for this match with the pair facing late fitness tests. Jonas Olsson is out until next month. Silvestre Varela is likely to retain his place after an impressive run. Saido Berahino could return after losing his place in the starting eleven to Brown Ideye.

Matija Nastasic is a late fitness problem, although he hasn’t been playing lately. Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, Stevan Jovetic and Edin Dzeko are all going to miss out this week, while Jose Angel Pozo is a doubt.

Verdict

West Brom haven’t been great recently, but with the number of key players out for Manchester City, they may look at this fixture with confidence. It’s a good thing for the home side that they have relatively little pressure on them as they can play with no fear. Although Manchester City have won their last six matches, there is a great chance for the Baggies to get something, with City having an injury crisis up front. They still possess plenty of quality with the likes of David Silva, Yaya Toure and Samir Nasri having the ability to score the goals to carry City forward. Eliaquim Mangala and Martin Demichelis have improved recently, but West Brom will still be confident of causing them problems. I think West Brom will get something from this game.

West Brom 1-1 Manchester City