View: West Brom could have their season shaped by next four fixtures
It’s the time of year when you have to de-ice the car on frosty mornings, Christmas decorations are slowly starting to appear and Michael Buble is undoubtedly days away from releasing a new album. And amid the beginning of the festive period, West Brom are still top of the Championship table.
Slaven Bilic cannot be praised enough for the job he has done at The Hawthorns since taking over as head coach in the summer.
Albion have lost just once in their 16 league fixtures, are two points ahead of the chasing pack and there are clear signs that the Baggies have someone in the dug-out who has the tactical nous to be able to win promotion back to the Premier League.
It’s about time someone was in charge who knew how to make effective substitutions.
However West Brom are set to face their biggest test yet over the course of the next two and a half weeks as they end November and kick off December with some very tough fixtures.
Albion start their tough run on Saturday when they welcome Sheffield Wednesday to the Midlands.
The Owls have struggled as of late but are still a team that are eighth in the Championship table and only three points away from a place in the play-offs.
Garry Monk’s side is one that has the ability to frustrate the Baggies, especially at The Hawthorns this weekend as Bilic’s side have not won in their last two matches in front of the home fans and conceded two goals in each of their last five games in the Black Country.
After Sheffield Wednesday’s visit, Albion then host Bristol City next Wednesday; the Robins are a dangerous side to play.
They are sixth and unbeaten in their last four Championship matches. Plus, Albion lost 3-2 in their last clash against Lee Johnson’s side, who can beat just about anyone in the league on their day.
Then comes the toughest test of them at all – West Brom versus Preston at Deepdale.
Alex Neil’s side are flying high in the Championship and as it stands, they are second in the league and breathing down the necks of the Baggies.
There’s no better team at home in the whole division with Preston yet to lose at Deepdale and winning seven of their nine games there.
If West Brom want promotion then they need to go to Lancashire and win as comfortably as they did last season when Dwight Gayle’s hat-trick helped the Baggies to a 4-1 triumph.
Albion’s tough four-match run ends when they take on Swansea at The Hawthorns.
Throughout this run, Bilic’s men will play at home on three occasions but based on their form in front of the home fans, that might not be ideal.
West Brom’s home form – despite being unbeaten at The Hawthorns – is the ninth-best in the Championship while no one in the league can boast a better away record.
Swansea are not going to be an easy team to beat but if West Brom get through their next four games without suffering any losses, then confidence among the supporters will no doubt grow as the Albion try to win their way back to the Premier League.
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