West Bromwich Albion will be looking to reclaim their spot at the summit in the Championship when they host Leeds United in a huge top-of-the-table clash at The Hawthorns on New Year’s Day.
The Baggies were leading the way ahead of their previous league game against Middlesbrough, but a 2-0 defeat against the Teesside outfit coupled with Marcelo Bielsa’s men’s 5-4 win at Birmingham City means they are now behind the Yorkshire club on goal difference.
It was just the west Midlands side’s second loss of the campaign in England’s second tier, as they look for a return to the Premier League at the second time of asking.
During what is a bust festive period, FFC predict the starting XI manager Slaven Bilic will select against the Whites…
Bilic has had to make do without some key players in recent matches, but according to The Express & Star, the likes of Kieran Gibbs and Kyle Bartley are in contention to return to the team-sheet, although the manager has ruled out Grady Diangana and Nathan Ferguson featuring.
We expect the former West Ham United boss to stick with Sam Johnstone between the sticks, but there will be two changes to the backline.
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Ahmed Hegazi came under fire from some Baggies fans on Twitter for his display against Boro, while Ferguson was taken off at half-time to be replaced by Conor Townsend, and is now injured.
We expect Bartley and Gibbs to come in for the aforementioned duo here, with Semi Ajayi and Darnell Furlong keeping their spots.
Ahead of them, Romaine Sawyers returns to the XI in place of Gareth Barry having been an unused substitute against Jonathan Woodgate’s men, and Kyle Edwards keeps his spot on the left with Diangana still not ready.
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He is certainly proving to be a big miss with West Brom only taking two points from a possible nine in his absence, with him scoring five goals and providing a further six assists from out wide for them in 19 Championship outings this term.
Edwards will join Matheus Pereira and Matt Phillips in the attacking midfield positions, and we think that Bilic might take a punt on Charlie Austin up top ahead of Hal Robson-Kanu and Kenneth Zohore.
This could easily be a close game where you need a striker to take any chances that come their way, and he is their top scorer with eight in 2019/20.
In other West Brom news, Baggies fans have been discussing one player Slaven Bilic clearly doesn’t rate after the Boro defeat…