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It’s the second in the home double this week against teams below us and having drawn with Fulham on Wednesday we now take on next to bottom West Bromwich Albion tomorrow afternoon.

Ashley Barnes’ equaliser in the Fulham game ensured we remained eight points ahead of them and it also took us up one place in the table ahead of Brighton with 27 points from our 24 games. We are in that group now with Southampton, Crystal Palace, Brighton and Newcastle that, while looking relatively safe, those clubs know that a bad run in could put them under some pressure with Fulham, of the three bottom clubs, clearly the most likely to close that gap.

As each game comes around, the calculators and predictors are coming out to see how things might go in the remaining fixtures but I remain positive that it won’t be a particularly high number of points that will keep teams up this season. It needed 35 points last season but at this stage, after 24 games, Bournemouth and Watford both sat on 23 points, four more than Fulham’s current total with Norwich below them on 17 points.

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There is no doubt it will be a tough game tomorrow. It always is against a Sam Allardyce team but Ashley Westwood has great faith in the togetherness in our squad. Admitting that it is tough this season, Westwood said: “We’re a squad that gets on with it. We have a squad that will dig in and we’ll work our socks off and we won’t use injuries as an excuse. There’s not a squad like us for the closeness.

“Fulham came and it was a real battle. They’re a good side and it was a tough game for us. We would have taken a point from that. This will be another battle but one we’re certainly up for. We’ve put ourselves in a great position to build on in the final third of the season.”

Westwood is our only ever present this season. He hasn’t missed a game since the 5-0 defeat at Spurs last season and since he replaced Steven Defour in the team in January 2018 he’s missed just nine games from which we’ve won just two points.

He’s somehow missed all the injuries this season and he’ll line up in a team tomorrow that will show at least two changes. Sean Dyche has already confirmed that Ben Mee will be back while we will have to find a replacement for Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson who suffered a hamstring injury in the draw against Fulham. That won’t be Robbie Brady who also suffered an injury so I’m expecting Josh Brownhill, who lost his place in the team through injury, to fill in on the right hand side.

Chris Wood, Dale Stephens and Erik Pieters all look to be out of the reckoning but Matěj Vydra should be available although I think we will keep Ashley Barnes and Jay Rodriguez up front.

I think the team will be: Nick Pope, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Charlie Taylor, Josh Brownhill, Ashley Westwood, Jack Cork, Dwight McNeil, Ashley Barnes, Jay Rodriguez. Subs: Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Will Norris, Phil Bardsley, Kevin Long, Jimmy Dunne, Anthony Glennon, Josh Benson, Matěj Vydra, Joel Mumbongo.

Promoted last season in second place behind Leeds, West Brom have found things difficult on their return to the Premier League. In mid-December they drew 1-1 at Manchester City. Astonishingly, given that result, they parted company with manager Slaven Bilić who was immediately replaced with Sam Allardyce coming through the door. They had won seven points from thirteen games with Bilić in charge, under Allardyce it is six points from eleven games. Both won one game with Allardyce’s only win to date coming in the Black Country derby against Wolves at Molineux; their other win was at home against Sheffield United.

That 1-0 win against the Blades and their 0-0 draw at home against us are the only two occasions they’ve kept clean sheets and that’s something Allardyce has referred to time and time again since taking over. Under his management they’ve conceded five goals twice and on another occasion four goals but all of those have been at The Hawthorns. Away from home under the new manager they’ve also drawn at Liverpool to add to the Wolves win.

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Goals haven’t been too easy to come by. They’ve netted 19 Premier League goals, that’s one more than us, but the 55 they’ve conceded is by far the worst in the league. At the attacking end, five of their goals have been scored by Matheus Pereira.

They too have some injury problems but nothing like as bad as ours. Lee Peltier was withdrawn with an ankle injury last time out against Manchester United but has a chance of playing. It’s the same for Robert Snodgrass (pictured above) who has a bruise behind the knee. He will be assessed.

They will be without Kieran Gibbs with a neck and shoulder injury while there is good news regarding Grady Diangana. He’s not played since 2nd January because of a hamstring injury but Allardyce has confirmed he is back in the squad.

Their team last time out in the 1-1 home draw against Manchester United was: Sam Johnstone, Lee Peltier, Semi Ajayi, Kyle Bartley, Conor Townsend, Okay Yokuşlu, Robert Snodgrass, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Conor Gallagher, Matheus Pereira, Mbaye Diagne. Subs: David Button, Darnell Furlong, Dara O’Shea, Romaine Sawyers, Matt Phillips, Jake Livermore, Hal Robson-Kanu, Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant.

 

LAST TIME THEY WERE HERE

 

It was very much a disappointment home return for the first Turf Moor fixture of the 2017/18 season. We’d sensationally won at Chelsea a week earlier but we couldn’t repeat that against West Brom for whom Hal Robson-Kanu was both hero and villain.

For much of the game we were the better side and West Brom, for whom Jay Rodriguez was playing his second game, hadn’t threatened too much at all. With just over an hour gone, Baggies’ boss Tony Pulis made the game’s first substitution, bringing on Robson-Kanu for James McClean.

The substitute was only on the pitch for twenty minutes by which time he’d scored the only goal of the game and then become the third player to be sent off against us in the new season.

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It was a soft goal too. Matt Phillips got the better of Ben Mee from a long kick out by Ben Foster with Phillips heading the ball to Robson-Kanu who got past a half hearted challenge from Stephen Ward and almost as easily past James Tarkowski before scoring.

Soon after, he led with his arm in a challenge with Matt Lowton and got himself that red card from Martin Atkinson. It gave us seven minutes plus stoppage time against ten men but there was to be no equaliser and West Brom won at Burnley for the first time since 2002.

The teams were;

Burnley: Tom Heaton, Matt Lowton, James Tarkowski, Ben Mee, Stephen Ward, Jόhann Berg Guðmundsson (Ashley Barnes 79), Jeff Hendrick, Jack Cork, Steven Defour, Robbie Brady (Jon Walters 78), Sam Vokes. Subs not used: Nick Pope, Kevin Long, Charlie Taylor, Ashley Westwood, Scott Arfield.

West Brom: Ben Foster, Allan-Roméo Nyom, Craig Dawson, Ahmed Hegazi, Chris Brunt, James McClean (Hal Robson-Kanu 63), Jake Livermore, Sam Field (Salomon Rondon 85), Gareth Barry, Matt Phillips, Jay Rodriguez. Subs not used: Boaz Myhill, Kane Wilson, Rekeem Harper, Jonathan Leko, Nacer Chadli.

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