It’s must-win territory yet again for West Brom when they take on Wolves in Monday’s Black Country Derby clash at The Hawthorns.
After consecutive wins against Chelsea and Southampton to kick April off, Sam Allardyce’s side suffered a hit to their Premier League survival hopes with a loss and draw to Leicester City and Aston Villa, respectively.
Now they will begin May with their third Midlands clash in a row desperate for greater success.
They’ll be buoyed by the state of Monday’s visitors who will make the short trip on the back of a thumping 4-0 defeat to usually goal-shy Burnley last weekend, with ex-Baggie Chris Wood scoring a first-half hat-trick to shock Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Wolves have won just twice in their last eight games, and both of those were narrow victories against Albion’s relegation zone buddies Sheffield United and Fulham.
That should give Big Sam and co some renewed confidence amid an ever-unlikely survival bid, with West Brom nine points behind 17th-placed Brighton with five games left.
There should also be belief stemming from our previous encounter in January when we belied the form book to emerge 3-2 winners at Molineux, after an eight-game winless streak.
Matheus Pereira was the hero that day as he opened and closed the scoring from the penalty spot, but there was another Albion attacker that played a pivotal role in the goals.
Callum Robinson started in a central striking role and he was felled twice to hand Pereira the chance to convert from 12 yards.
That could come into Big Sam’s thinking on Monday as he eyes a Black Country double.
Robinson was unfancied for the majority of February and March but after his double at Chelsea on April 3 he has started the past three matches on the left-wing.
Mbaye Diagne has been an ever-present in the Albion starting XI since the start of February but the goals have been evading him, with just two in 13 games.
He had a huge role to play in Tyrone Mings’ own goal that gave them the lead at Aston Villa on Sunday, and he was called “magnificent” by Don Goodman on Sky Sports [12/04/21] earlier this month, but he could be benched for the clash with Wolves.
That’s in part down to the reverse fixture and how Robinson did, but it’s also a defensive move to counteract their main threat, Adama Traore.
The explosive winger has been deployed centrally of late but he’s often found darting to the wings to burst past full-backs and cross for Willian Jose in the penalty box.
After conceding five goals in our last two outings Big Sam must be concerned about our resilience and therefore Matt Phillips could return to the starting XI after being dropped for the clash at Villa Park.
He offers more defensively than any of our other wingers and that could see him fielded in a three-pronged Albion attack with Robinson and Dingle slayer Pereira.
The loan trio of Okay Yokuslu, Conor Gallagher and Ainsley Maitland-Niles should keep their places in the middle of midfield, while Conor Townsend, Semi Ajayi, Kyle Bartley and Darnell Furlong are expected to line up in front of Sam Johnstone again.
Here’s how we think West Brom will line up at The Hawthorns on Monday…
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