This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
West Bromwich Albion will be looking to continue their run at the top of the Championship table this weekend when they return to action for the first time in two weeks.
Slaven Bilic’s side will welcome promotion-hunting Sheffield Wednesday to the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon, and history suggests that they could be in for a tough time of it.
The Baggies will have to contend with the absence of their entire midfield engine room.
Both Romaine Sawyers and skipper Jake Livermore will serve a one-match suspension after picking up five bookings each.
The duo have started every single league game under the Croatian boss this campaign.
If their imminent omission wasn’t unfortunate enough, Livermore’s previous absences only highlight just how significant a loss he really is to Albion.
Last season under Darren Moore and then caretaker Jimmy Shan, the 30-year-old was a familiar figure, playing 39 matches.
Currently this term, the side are averaging just over two points per game, and given the central midfielder has started every match, his presence has clearly had a positive impact.
However, he did miss a total of nine matches, including the two-legged playoff semi-final – either through suspension or injury – and during this run, the Baggies won just three games, averaging only 1.22 points per game.
That is a drop of over 0.5 points a match in his absence.
Therefore, the seven-time England international somewhat holds the keys to the west Midlanders enjoying success, at least over the last 18 months or so.
Watch West Bromwich Albion Videos With StreamFootball.tv Below
There’s no way of truly knowing, but they surely could have done with his presence in the playoffs after Aston Villa defeated them on penalties.
Per WhoScored, no midfielder in the current side records more tackles per game (2.2) than he does, so the task of replacing the powerhouse is the toughest decision Bilic will face this weekend.
If this trend continues, then West Brom will be in for one long afternoon at the Hawthorns on Saturday.