15:00 KO (BST); Saturday 16th September; The Hawthorns (Birmingham, England)
Having failed to score more than a single goal in all but one Premier League game since they beat Arsenal 3-1 in March, goals are still a sticking point for the Baggies.
With a metronomically consistent one goal in each game this season, West Brom can also boast four separate scorers which has its own advantages even if they are without a figurehead striker.
With West Ham providing an opposition which many will expect them to sweep to one side, the Brighton experience will still linger and cast a warning of over-complacency.
With three defeats on the road already this season, Slaven Bilic is still searching for some breathing space that will come with his team nestled in the comfort of mid-table.
Having signed a wealth of experience through his four main summer signings, he’s not yet found an influential character to inject any real magic into his side.
In facing a team expected to pose a physical challenge and a well-drilled defence, Bilic will be hoping for a little magic to break down the opposition provide another week worth of comfort.
Last Time Out
Brighton 3 – 1 WEST BROM
West Brom’s strong start to the season hit its first bump when they travelled to the South coast to take on the Premier League newcomers.
Having expected to bring all three points back home, they were not only beaten but defeated by quite some margin. With West Brom uncharacteristically making individual defensive errors, Brighton were sharper in the tackle and hungrier to succeed on the day.
Salomón Rondón encapsulated the Baggies’ problems, making only 41% of his attempted passes and failing to take on shots at the goal which was his single purpose of being on the field.
A switch to a more attacking lineup from second-half substitutions tilted the game back in West Brom’s favour, especially as Brighton’s legs tired after an explosive start by the Seagulls.
However, a share in the points would have been unfair to the home side and Pulis’ face after the game made it look like he thought so too.
WEST HAM UNITED 2 – 0 Huddersfield Town
While not a convincing performance by the Hammers, it was a much-needed victory that saw Slaven Bilic greet the final whistle with a broad smile.
Javier Hernández unluckily struck the crossbar in the 13th minute, but West Ham mainly toiled against a sturdy Huddersfield side with no joy for the majority of the match.
Despite their 19 shots on goal, the Hammers only put three of them on target, two of which found the back of the net.
With Andy Carroll playing centrally, Bilic’s preference for a three-man defence meant that Javier Hernández was played out of position on the left wing.
While Carroll was arguably the Hammers’ best player, there was a lack of someone next to him to play directly off his aerial presence and Hernández found himself not only on the periphery of the pitch but also on the periphery of the game.
This leaves the long-time question of how best to use Carroll in the Hammers line-up looking as tantalising as ever.
West Brom Lineup
Minor injuries to Gareth McAuley (fitness), Nacer Chadli (knock) and new signing Oliver Burke (hamstring) aside, Tony Pulis will have a full squad to choose from.
This could see Hal Robson-Kanu start in the lone striker role after his recent suspension, while Chris Brunt should return after his international exploits with Northern Ireland.
West Ham Lineup
Edimilson Fernandes (ankle) and Manuel Lanzini (knee) are still unavailable for the Hammers with Mark Noble (knee) also in some doubt whether he’ll be able to feature in this game.
Marko Arnautovic will once again take up the left-sided attacking position after serving the suspension for his red card against Southampton, meaning a reshuffle in attacking options could see Andy Carroll drop to the bench with Bilic preferring a lone striker away from home or swapping to a more traditional approach to the game.
Key Battle: Jonny Evans vs Andy Carroll
With rumours that Evans will be rewarded for turning away City’s summer attentions with a new contract at the Hawthorns, the Northern Irish defender has claimed all the speculation has sharpened his game.
Having scored for his country during the recent internationals, Evans’ return to the West Brom line-up was less than impressive when they played Brighton last weekend.
With Andy Carroll potentially facing against him this weekend, it will be another test for a player claiming to be reaching new heights in his personal development.
When injury-free, Andy Carroll’s ability has never been in much doubt -especially the aerial threat which he brings to his side’s attack.
With West Brom being a tall and physically imposing team to play against, Carroll’s main strength will make him an almost certain starter for the Hammers this weekend.
Having already scored five goals and created two more during his previous games against the Baggies, he will relish the challenge and be hopeful of improving those figures.
600 Not Out
If chosen to start the match against the Hammers, it will be Gareth Barry’s 600th Premier League start on Saturday.
In a career which spans almost 20 years, the 26-year-old midfielder is going through another resurgence and reinvention having moved from Everton to the Hawthorns this summer.
Having replaced Claudio Yacob in the holding midfield role, Barry has started the previous three consecutive games for the Baggies and has done more than enough to merit his inclusion in the squad.
Tony Pulis’ insistence that Barry was the best player on the pitch during the defeat at Brighton may have been tinged by his Baggie-coloured glasses, but there was some substance to his claim.
With three shots on goal, two of which were on target, he is more than the anchor in midfield, however; it is how he plays with composure and dictates the rhythm of the game that is of most value, something which no statistic can fully appreciate.
Searching for the winning formula
With the rise of Fantasy football, Championship manager and a plethora of ways to voice public opinions, being a football manager now seems like an easy job to take on.
West Ham will be expected to have more cutting edge with the return of Arnautovic to the team who, along with Michail Antonio, Andy Carroll, Chicharito and the soon to return Manuel Lanzini, gives Bilic a wealth of attacking options at his fingertips. If only it was that easy though.
Bilic now has to find a system and way of playing which can extract the most from his riches, something which rarely works out it appears to on paper.
While Dimitri Payet was a player of individual brilliance, he was more valuable to the team as the glue which joined them together and made them sing.
As time reportedly runs low in East London for Bilic, he needs to find a way of making his assortment of stars truly tick.
PREDICTION: West Brom 1 – 0 West Ham United
While West Ham will have less pressure to win this fixture following their victory on Monday, Bilic is still a manager in need of turning his club’s fortunes around.
West Brom, by comparison, will view their recent defeat as a mere blemish having deserved the start which their first three games has afforded them.
As West Brom are likely to continue their trend of scoring one goal, the result will depend on whether the Hammers can muster a reply and I’m backing the Baggies to keep a third clean-sheet of the season.
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