Premier League 17/18 Week 32: West Bromwich Albion vs Burnley – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
Defeat against the Clarets will leave the Baggies mathematically unable to reach 40 points this season as relegation closes in
15:00 BST, Saturday 31st March, The Hawthorns (Birmingham, England)
With 7 consecutive defeats in the Premier League, the Baggies are looking doomed at the foot of the table. Alan Pardew has done little to enhance his reputation which following an unsuccessful final year at Crystal Palace, has seen him collect a measly 12 points from his last 27 league matches. With more than this required from West Brom’s final 7 matches, a win this weekend is a must if he’s to help the Baggies pull off a great escape.
Making the trip to the Hawthorns is one of the Premier League’s biggest success stories of the season. While many predicted Burnley would struggle to avoid relegation this year, Sean Dyche’s team have done so with what appears consummate ease. Lying 7th despite a relatively barren 3 month period, the Clarets now have back-to-back victories and are looking to finish the season as they began.
Last Time Out
Bournemouth 2-1 West Bromwich Albion (Premier League)
The Baggies came close to earning their fourth league win of the season only for a late lapse to cost them dearly. Jonny Evans provided a captains performance in the heart of defence as he battled illness to pull on his shirt and play for his team. He gave one of the better performances for the Baggies as they showed great work rate to be the better side for the first two-thirds of this match.
Jay Rodriguez calmly scored just after halftime to put the visitors ahead and they were well on course for a win with Bournemouth barely threatening their goal. When Evans succumbed to his illness in the 77th minute and Matt Phillips replaced him, West Brom were forced into a defensive reshuffle which was brutally exposed by Jordon Ibe who equalised for the home team. Ben Foster should have done better with the shot and was again culpable for the Cherries second goal when a free-kick beat him from 25-yards at his near post. It was another harsh lesson for West Brom who remain deeply rooted to the foot of the table.
West Ham United 0-3 Burnley (Premier League)
Burnley held firm during a poor first half to keep their composure and pull away after the break as all others around them appeared to lose their own cool. Nick Pope produced two great saves to keep his team in the contest before the addition of Chris Wood from the bench turned the game in Burnley’s favour.
Two quick goals from first Ashley Barnes and then Wood put the Clarets firmly in control of the game, the second of which sparked problems amongst the home crowd who protested vociferously against their own board. It would be unfair to blame West Ham’s defeat entirely on the circumstances off the field, with both Barnes and Wood good value for their goals and the Kiwi scoring a second and assisting Barnes to finish the match with a comfortable scoreline in uncomfortable surroundings for the West Ham hierarchy.
West Brom Lineup
Daniel Sturridge (hamstring) remains absent through injury, as does Gareth Barry (knock) Sam Field (knock) Nacer Chadli (thigh) and James Morrison (Achilles) which could lead to Pardew fielding the same starting lineup that fared well against Bournemouth for most of their last match.
Tom Heaton could make his return to action this weekend but Dyche will still be without Steven Defour (knee) Scott Arfield (calf) Robbie Brady (knee) and Jonathan Walters (knee) who are all suffering long-term injuries.
Key Battle: Claudio Yacob (West Brom) vs Jeff Hendrick (Burnley)
With both Gareth Barry and Grzegorz Krychowiak pushing Yacob down the pecking order at the Hawthorns this season, the defensive midfielder has only had limited playing time during the current campaign. However, he has excelled when an opportunity has arisen for first-team action and last week was no exception. This could see him once more played in the anchoring midfield role where he can protect West Brom slim hopes of keeping their Premier League status.
Playing directly against him is a player who has an impressive first half of the season but has since faded below his own high standards. While not receiving much recognition outside his own club’s supporters, Hendrick was one of the main reasons Burnley enjoyed a prosperous start to this season. Playing in a creative number 10 position, Hendrick’s work rate in pressing the opposition is as important to Dyche’s gameplan as his forward-thinking passes.
In each of West Brom’s last 4 defeats, they have gone into the half-time break on level terms only to lose the match in the second half. While it’s hard to draw any concrete conclusions from this, it hints at a lack of belief coursing through the team.
Having been written off for relegation by most people for some time already, the Baggies now face an implausible task to remain in the top-flight. Sitting 10 points from safety and on the same number of points Sunderland had at this stage of last season, West Brom may soon find themselves condemned mathematically and not just mentally.
Out of the Wood
Having just returned from injury, Chris Wood has found some real competition for his place back in the starting lineup. Ashley Barnes has come into great form during Wood’s absence having now claimed a goal in each of his last three appearances.
Wood has responded to the challenge with 3 goals of his own from his 2 substitute appearances which only amount to 74 minutes of playing time. With the league’s bottom club now in Burnley’s line of sight, Wood will be hoping he’s done enough to justify a starting berth to add further to his impressive tally this month.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 0-1 Burnley
There looks little hope of a miraculous Easter rising for the Baggies who could sink closer to Championship football by the end of Saturday afternoon. The Clarets are once more hitting form and now have more than one striker capable of firing them to glory which could spell doom for the hosts in a tight match.