West Brom will have to pull off an upset as their battle against relegation continues this evening when they welcome Manchester City to the Hawthorns.
It’s a big ask for Sam Allardyce’s men to get a result, but get a result they must as they are six points adrift of safety at the half-way point of the Premier League campaign.
Pep Guardiola has steered his side to ten straight victories, whilst the Baggies have won just once since Big Sam was appointed – a call that came less than two days after a 1-1 draw in this very fixture in mid-December.
Albion were defeated by the 66-year-old’s former club, West Ham, last time out so might there be changes afoot tonight?
Here’s the XI we’re predicting as well as West Brom’s latest team and injury news…
Ahead of the fixture, Allardyce revealed that he would have Matty Phillips (recovered from a positive coronavirus test) and Karlan Grant (fractured foot) available for selection, he said to wba.co.uk:
“I’m glad to say we have Matt Phillips and Karlan Grant back. That boosts our squad.”
Whilst Robert Snodgrass is also in contention having missed the match against his former club due to a gentleman’s agreement to not play him. After his impact on debut against Wolves, he was sorely missed.
All three could come straight into the starting lineup as Allardyce’s only changes.
It means we’re likely to see an unchanged flat back-four with Sam Johnstone between the sticks.
Kieran Gibbs and Dara O’Shea could continue at full-back, the latter is a more defensive option to Darnell Furlong, and that will be required against the firepower at Guardiola’s disposal.
Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley seem to be Big Sam’s preferred pairing with Branislav Ivanovic snubbed from Albion’s last two league outings.
In midfield, we’re expecting Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher to partner skipper Jake Livermore, while Matheus Pereira remains at the peak of the engine room in the no.10 role but with the inclusion of Snodgrass, Baggies regular Romaine Sawyers may have to make way.
The 29-year-old has started 15 league matches this term, but ranks among the worst of West Brom’s regulars having averaged a 6.21 rating – Gallagher (6.72) and Snodgrass (7.21) have managed better, per WhoScored.
Callum Robinson may be axed after a lengthy run without a goal or assist, thus making space for Phillips to slot straight back in – he had started the first four games under Allardyce before he was hit with the virus.
Finally, in attack, Grant is the only senior striker available right now so his return would be a timely boost. He comes straight in, replacing the underperforming Kamil Grosicki.