Newly-appointed West Brom boss Sam Allardyce has been thrown straight into the deep end for his first game in charge of the Baggies as they welcome an arch-rival to the Hawthorns this evening.
The 66-year-old has it all to do if he’s to salvage something from Albion’s woeful start in the Premier League, and it begins with an encounter against Dean Smith’s high-flying Aston Villa.
He replaced the axed Slaven Bilic earlier in the week despite the Croatian steering his side to an impressive 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
It’ll be interesting to see what sort of lineup Big Sam selects as his next survival bid takes shape – here’s the XI we’re predicting tonight…
Allardyce is known for his direct style so there may well be a change in system, though he’s expected to be without a quintet of Baggies stars.
The influential Matheus Pereira is serving the third and final match of his suspension while defensive duo Kyle Bartley and Conor Townsend are still on the treatment table, as is Sam Field and Hal Robson-Kanu.
We’re likely to see no change between the sticks, so Sam Johnstone keeps his place but there could be a recall for Premier League veteran Branislav Ivanovic to partner Semi Ajayi at centre-back. Kieran Gibbs and Darnell Furlong should continue at full-back.
In midfield, we’re expecting Jake Livermore to take up a place alongside Conor Gallagher as a two-man engine room. The pair are the perfect box-to-box types to play Big Sam’s 4-4-2 formation.
It means Grady Diangana also keeps his place on the left, though there may be a shock return for 32-year-old outcast Kamil Grosicki as he comes in for Matty Phillips on the right.
Allardyce could also make a huge call in attack, dropping the out-of-sorts Karlan Grant for Charlie Austin with Callum Robinson also returning to the XI in the fourth and final change to partner him up top.
Romaine Sawyers will therefore join the likes of Filip Krovinovic, Lee Peltier and Kyle Edwards on the bench.