West Brom v Wolverhampton Wanderers – Match Preview

West Brom take on neighbours Wolves in Sunday’s Midlands derby looking secure a first home win of the season and put a halt to their barren run of form.

Baggies boss Roy Hodgson has been unable to inspire his team to a win on their own patch  with Shane Long scoring the only goal at The Hawthorns so far this season. Albion fans will be anxious for the team to kickstart their campaign having picked up two draws and a solitary win from their seven games so far. Hodgson was the motivational figure they needed to drag themselves away from the relegation zone this week but the former Liverpool manager has been unable to replicate that in the current campaign. They’ve won just three of their last 13 league games and have failed to beat Wolves in the top flight 1982. Even worse for the Baggies their boss has failed to pick up three points against them in five games. Goals are an issue with Long struggling after his £7 million move from Reading whilst Peter Odemwingie has failed to hit the heights of his debut season in England. Even Chris Brunt has suffered a dramatic drop in form with the skipper labouring to provide some inspiration. They’ve yet to score in the second half with a majority of their strikes coming in the first five minutes and their tendency to fade out of matches proving frustrating for the Baggies supporters.

Wolves are also on the slide and have picked up only one point from a possible 15 since winning their first two games of the season. That six point haul in the opening weeks gave fans cause to be optimistic of a mid-table finish after narrowly avoiding the drop last year. They were desperately unlucky against Newcastle a fortnight ago with their late equaliser being ruled and adding to a catalogue of referee decisions that have conspired against them. If they lose this one it will be their fifth consecutive defeat and longest streak without a win in the top flight since 1983/84. That season they lost six games on the trot and ended up being relegated. Boss Mick McCarthy will be doing all he can to keep the club in the Premier League for another year and can take solace in the fact his side were unbeaten in derby away games last season. He also has Steven Fletcher to call on with the Scotland international his most potent goal scoring threat up front having scored eight in his last 12 games. Kevin Doyle has also maintained his high level of performance from the previous campaign and will hoping to outdo his former Reading team mate Long in front of goal.

Key Players

Shane Long – The Republic of Ireland striker has struggled in the past few weeks but is still the Baggies best chance of reigniting their scoring touch. Possessing boundless energy and a knack of being in the right place at the right time he will pose a massive threat to the Wolves defence. Needs his teammates around him to be on the same wavelength and pick out his intelligent runs off the shoulder of defenders.

Matt Jarvis – The winger has been in good form this season and will need to be at his industrious best if Wolves are to take anything away from the Hawthorns. With speed and skill in his arsenal it’s imperative he is given license to attack the Baggies full backs at every opportunity so he can provide Fletcher and Doyle with chances to hit the net.

Verdict: 1-2

  • Fellow striker Shane Long is West Brom’s top ranked player in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index and is in 29th place after scoring his third of the season against Sunderland
  • Long has proven very economical and got his three goals from just 6 shots on target, 66% of all his attempts at goal
  • Striker Steven Fletcher scored his second goal in as many games and rose 19 places in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index rankings to 85th
  • England midfielder Matt Jarvis is Wolves’ highest ranking player in 41st place, having delivered 24 crosses into the box this season and completed 93 passes in his opponent’s half