West Brom face an almighty task as they welcome Manchester City to the Hawthorns this evening.
Sam Allardyce’s men are in desperate need of results as they sit six points adrift of safety at the half-way stage of the season, though there are no easy games in the Premier League these days.
Usually, this sort of fixture would be a bit of a free hit but the Baggies really do need to start picking up points before it’s too late.
And the 66-year-old’s chances of pulling off a shock in the Midlands tonight have been boosted by the return of their only senior striker, Karlan Grant.
Speaking ahead of the encounter, Big Sam revealed that the 23-year-old forward is available for selection, he told reporters, via wba.co.uk:
“I’m glad to say we have Matt Phillips and Karlan Grant back. That boosts our squad,” said Allardyce. “Granty, before he got here, scored plenty of goals at Huddersfield so we would like him to be back in the team and finding positions to score goals.”
Grant has missed their last three Premier League outings as well as their FA Cup exit and in his absence, winger-by-trade Callum Robinson has been deployed upfront – a desperate experiment that has failed to work out.
Indeed, the Irishman has failed to score in that run of matches, even during their 3-2 win over arch-rivals Wolves. That day, two spot-kicks from Matheus Pereira and centre-back Semi Ajayi’s header from a set-piece sealed a rare victory.
Only two other players (Pereira and Conor Gallager) in this Albion squad are averaging more shots per game than Grant (1.3), while Robinson is further behind, averaging 0.8 attempts per match, via WhoScored, which shows he’s not really threatening enough to have the chance to score.
Grant’s expected goals per 90 minutes (0.17) is also above Robinson (0.10), so the summer arrival is certainly a better option in attack.
The Baggies are also among the lowest scorers in the division having bagged 15 goals in 19 outings – only Burnley and Sheffield United have scored fewer (ten).
Former Terriers boss Danny Cowley once dubbed the 6-foot striker “ruthless in front of goal” to The Athletic while another one of his ex-managers, Lee Bowyer, believes Grant is a player who “causes problems” for the opposition.
It’s on Big Sam to get those type of performances back out of him and his presence leading the line tonight could come as a major boost towards West Brom’s chances.
After all, he’s their only real striker and as such, he ought to be in the starting XI right now. They need goals if they’re to defeat – or even draw with – Pep Guardiola’s side so Grant must be selected from the start.
It’s time to unleash the 23-year-old dynamo.
AND in other news, 3 new signings, no Sawyers: How West Brom’s XI may look after deadline day…