West Brom will be fully aware of just how sharp they will have to be against Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday night.
Dropping points for a third successive game would be bordering on disastrous for the Baggies’ promotion push, with Brentford closing in fast.
Factor in Wednesday’s own decent run of form since the Championship restart, and Albion will know that they need to be at their best to pick up a vital three points.
And a large part of their success could hinge on how effectively they can stifle Barry Bannan.
The playmaker is a key component of Garry Monk’s side, and picked up the man of the match award in last weekend’s 2-1 win over Bristol City.
There had been suggestions that he could be sidelined with a groin complaint against Albion, but according to his manager, he is available for selection.
And you can’t underestimate the influence that he wields for the Owls.
The Scot’s range of distribution in particular is superb.
So far this season, he has a higher pass completion rate than Jake Livermore – but has also made over twice as many dribbles per game and having a total action success rate that is 9.4% higher, as per Wyscout.
And he is often a threat even when his side are up against it.
The pass map above was taken from the 5-0 defeat to Brentford back in March.
Despite that scoreline, Bannan registered a pass completion rate of 90% form 83 attempts, including two stunning key passes.
Take the pass above as an example.
Before Bannan even assumes possession, you can already see that he is looking up the field to see if there are any runners ahead of him.
That awareness and vision is absolutely lethal, there’s no doubt about it.
Bannan’s technique is flawless too.
Playing in that deep-lying quarterback role affords him the time and space to distribute with freedom, and when it comes to striking the ball, there are few players who can better him.
There’s a reason why Gerard Houllier once likened him to Spanish World Cup winning duo Andres Iniesta and Xavi Hernandez.
The pass itself is then inch perfect.
Beautifully weighted, it cuts out the entire Brentford backline and leaves the striker with a ball that he can run onto without breaking his stride.
Granted, he doesn’t finish the chance, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Bannan’s pass, which is a delight.
West Brom will have to be wary of a player who has that kind of weapon in his arsenal – if they’re not, they could be in trouble for a third game running.
In other West Brom news, Jude Bellingham shares Twitter message with Baggies youngster after sealing new deal