West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City – Match Preview
When the season kicked off not many would have predicted this fixture would be contested by two teams challenging for a place in the top-six. Perpetual yo-yo club West Brom were anticipated to struggle under the stewardship of Steve Clarke in his first role as a full-time manager. Quite the contrary with the Baggies proving to be on of the Premier League’s surprise packages this term, playing an attractive style of football and are on course to record their best ever finish in the top-flight. However their form at the Hawthorns is patchy at best and must find a vein of consistency on their own turf if they’re to sneak up into the European spots. That will also depend on Romelu Lukaku continuing his fine scoring run and the Albion defence, which has conceded just 13 goals in 14 home matches, remaining watertight.
That might not be much of an issue against a Swansea side that have struggled to find the net on their travels. Much like their opponents the Welsh club welcomed a new manager in the shape of Michael Laudrup last summer and were prophesied to be scrapping at the wrong end of the table come this point in the season. But as we all know that isn’t the case with the club now preparing for a European adventure after lifting the Capital One Cup two weeks ago. Laudrup could be forgiven for allowing his players to take their foot off the gas but they showed little sign of that happening with a determined victory over Newcastle last Saturday. And they might need to call up the same mental substance shown against the Magpies if they’re to avoid leaving the Midlands empty handed.
West Brom have captain Chris Brunt back from injury, Goran Popov returns from suspension and Romelu Lukaku is available after being ineligible last week. Shane Long (ankle) is doubtful.
A thigh injury will keep Kemy Agustien out for Swansea, while Gary Monk is expected to play with Chico Flores still sidelined after rupturing his ankle ligaments.
“It is a game between two of the surprise packages of the season. Both teams are seven points clear of tenth place, and that is really positive. They (West Brom) have done brilliantly this season, especially at home and they have a lot of talent and speed, in particular with (Romelu) Lukaku. We always like to have the ball but they are very good on the counter attack so we have to be careful. But we have to go there and play the way we always do and look to get a positive result.” Michael Laudrup praised West Brom as one of the surprise packages of this season (swanseacity.net)
“I’d like to think that our players are more on their guard, that they know what to expect from Swansea and they know the type of football they play. I would like to think that they do cast their mind back to that game and learn some lessons from it and make sure we’re ready this week and we get a better result. It was a disappointment because it came on the back of four fantastic wins for us. We had had a great month and I think it just rocked us a little bit. But you have to take your hat off to Swansea. In the first 30 minutes that night I thought they were unplayable. That is probably as good as anybody has played against us all season, so that gives us something to get our teeth into and a little incentive to make sure we get a better result this weekend.” Steve Clarke believes Swansea are one of the best teams West Brom have faced this season (Birmingham Mail)
Pre-Match Statistic: Victory for Swansea would see them complete the double over West Brom for the second successive season
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 2-0 Swansea City