West Bromwich Albion v Norwich City – Match Preview

Roy Hodgson knows his West Brom side need to beat Norwich at the Hawthorns on Saturday with the Baggies hovering dangerously close to the bottom three.

Albion lie just six points above third bottom Bolton after winning just two out of their last eight games. Hodgson’s side looked to have turned the corner just before Christmas with two stunning away wins in the matter of a few days at Blackburn and Newcastle. They then became the first team to keep league leaders Manchester City from scoring but their penchant for inconsistency has now come back to haunt them. 1-0 defeats at the hands of Everton and Tottenham have put the Baggies right back into the mix for relegation and boss Hodgson knows his side are in desperate need of a win to allay any fears that will get dragged any further south. Doing that at home has been a source of great difficulty this season with Albion winning just twice in 10 games on their own turf. Scoring goals in front of their own supporters has also been a problem with just seven going in at the Hawthorns despite having Shane Long and Peter Odemwingie up front. They’ll need to turn that record on its head in the second half of the campaign if they are to avoid being dragged into a battle for survival. A win could see them move up into the top half as a result of the table being so tight in the middle.

High-flying Norwich currently occupy a position many thought Albion should be in at this stage of the season. The Canaries sit proudly in ninth after a superb first half of the season but any relegation fears to the back of everyone’s minds in East Anglia. Paul Lambert has greatly enhanced his managerial credentials after taking a team built primarily of lower league players to within inches of European places. A decent Christmas period that saw them beat Newcastle at Carrow Road and secure draws away at Everton and Wolves has kept confidence at sky high levels. The form of Steve Morison and Grant Holt up front has provided a constant source of goals with Norwich finding the net 30 times already.It’s keeping clean sheets that has been the major problem with John Ruddy yet to record a shut out despite enjoying a stunning season thus far. Tightening up at the back is something Lambert needs to address sooner rather then later if they to avoid repeating the rise and fall of Blackpool. Their chances of doing that will be elevated at The Hawthorns with West Brom proving goal shy at home.

West Bromwich Albion 15th : 22 points

Last six: L L D W W L

Team news: Albion have six first team players who are considered doubts for this one whilst captain Chris Brunt will be out until April with an ankle injury.

Key Player: James Morison

It’s been an exciting season from the Scotland midfielder who has stepped up to be West Broms creative hub in midfield. Morison has been the stand out player for Albion scoring a number of crucial goals and will be hoping to find the net against Norwich and ease the clubs lingering relegation fears.

Norwich City 9th : 25 points

Last six: W D L D D W

Team news: The Canaries have four players unavailable for this game with James Vaughan expected back in a fortnight.

Key Player: Steve Morison

What a handful Morison has proved to be for Premier League defences this season. Written off before a ball had even been kicked the Welsh international has been terrific for Norwich since joining from Millwall with his aerial dominance and physical approach seeing him score eight goals for the Canaries.

PREDICTION

West Brom have been poor in their last two games and will need to start scoring goals and winning at home if they are to avoid a relegation battle. Norwich are riding higher than they’ve been for over 20-years and will be confident of securing another priceless three points at the Hawthorns.

Score: 1-2