West Brom face fellow Albion boys Brighton this weekend at The Hawthorns in a fixture that really must be won if the Baggies are to retain any faint glimmer of hope of survival this season.
The Baggies come off the back of a great performance away at Burnley, one that left us all scratching our heads as to how we did not manage to get the three points – even with ten men.
Brighton were incredibly unlucky to lose against their fierce rivals Crystal Palace midweek. Their 23 shots counted for nothing when Christian Benteke fired in a volley in the 95th minute – just Palace’s third shot of the game.
Graham Potter and his men will no doubt be hurting and looking to get back on track to move closer to yet another season of safety in the Premier League.
Here we take a look at Brighton’s key characteristics and how the Baggies may need to set-up as a result.
Neil Maupay has been in fine form this season, notching seven goals and one assist in 23 appearances. His blistering pace and ability to get in behind the lanes makes him a nuisance for Premier League defenders – with Semi Ajayi out and Albion missing his pace, Dara O’Shea, as the likely replacement, must be on top of his game to contain the French forward.
There is also the Belgian winger Leandro Trossard, who has two goals and four assists to his name this season. He plays on the left-wing, though possesses an excellent ability to cut inside, send the defender spinning and put in a cross or get a shot away. If Darnell Furlong retains his place at right-back, this will not be an easy ride.
One of Brighton’s most stand-out players this season has been Yves Bissouma. The Mali international’s performances in the middle of the park have been sure and dominant, attracting interest from the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. His box-to-box nature is similar to that of Michael Essien, frequently driving at players and occasionally chipping with a goal.
A defender the Baggies know well from the Championship is Ben White, having played against the English centre-back during his loan spell at Leeds. He has taken some time to settle into the Premier League, with his recent performances being key in Brighton’s run of wins, including against Spurs. His ability to move into midfield and then back into defence makes it a nightmare for the opposition to plan for and so Allardyce will have to encourage fluidity from Mbaye Diagne and Matheus Pereira at the top of the pitch.
Brighton sit in 16th place, 12 points above West Brom in 19th place. They are still remain in the relegation dog-fight, especially given Fulham’s recent upturn in form. This could signal good news for the Baggies, if Sam Allardyce’s men can string together a run of two or three wins.
Head to Head
The two Albion’s most recent game was an exciting one, ending in a 1-1 draw at the Amex Stadium. It saw Karlan Grant score his first goal for the club, on his second appearance, and it was a result that signaled a positive step forward for Slaven Bilic’s men.
Both Grant and Albion have failed to kick on since then, however, so this reverse fixture at home is a must win if there ever was one.
This fixture will be just the fourth time the sides have met in the Premier League; the Baggies won the first meeting 3-1, while Brighton won the reverse fixture 2-0 in a season that ultimately saw West Brom drop down to the Championship.
The Baggies have won 10 games, Brighton have won 6, with 9 draws, totaling a mere 25 fixtures across a 44-year period.