West Bromwich Albion vs Swansea City
Venue: The Hawthorns
Referee: Roger East
With a defeat to Swansea this weekend, West Bromwich Albion would go into the final five games of their season thirteen points away from safety, as Alan Pardew finally departed the seemingly doomed club earlier this week.
Swansea’s visit to Old Trafford last week proved unconvincing yet mostly inconsequential, as they remain three points above the relegation zone. A win at the Hawthorns is oppressively expected of them, as they seek to extend West Brom’s losses in a row to nine.Embed from Getty Images
In the aftermath of Alan Pardew’s dismissal from West Bromwich Albion, it is difficult to know where to begin when studying the troubled club. With the recent admission from Chief Executive Mark Jenkins that there is “no more money for wages”, inquests will be made as to how such a limited, yet lavishly paid, squad was assembled. Pardew never convinced as West Brom’s manager, with his final few press conferences reading as pleas to be sacked, and the likelihood that he would continue at the club in the event of relegation never seemed entirely realistic.
What is perhaps most damning about Pardew’s time at West Brom is the final few games, where performances improved simply by reverting to a ‘hit-and-hope’ policy up to their big striker Salomón Rondón. This back-to-basics approach elicited slightly better performances but continued to deliver defeats, and only served to remind the fans and the players of the absent figure of Tony Pulis, who was much maligned for his style of play but has never seen one of his teams relegated. Darren Moore will take charge of the weekend’s game in a caretaker capacity but the questions of who will be prepared to take over permanently, and how interested the players are in fighting still for their Premier League place, are yet to be answered.Embed from Getty Images
Since the excellent 4-1 win against West Ham at the beginning of March, Swansea haven’t scored a goal in any competition, with a goalless draw at Huddersfield and defeats against Tottenham and United denting the momentum of Carlos Carvalhal’s side. It is no coincidence that this goal-shy run has followed the suspension of Jordan Ayew, who has been Swansea’s best player this season and whose partnership with his brother promised so much until that untimely red card. Although this will the final game of his suspension, Swansea will be convinced they can rediscover their goal-scoring touch against the league’s bottom side.
Carlos Carvalhal has said “we don’t know how they will play” in regards to West Brom and their managerial situation, and it may be a concern that some fans share as well. There is so much said about the managerial bounce, of which Carvalhal and Swansea know very well, but sometimes a team is so uninterested and so resigned to their fate that a new manager can do nothing but watch in horror. It remains to be seen how Albion will react to this managerial change, but needing points themselves, Swansea will be anything but sympathetic in their visit to the Hawthorns.
The more interesting team question posed by this weekend’s games is how Darren Moore will treat the players who so publicly derided Alan Pardew. Grzegorz Krychowiak in particular had a public spat with the manager about a substitution, and it will be interesting to see whether he is given a starting-place in Pardew’s absence. Daniel Sturridge should still be injured for this game, continuing his nightmare loan spell, and Gareth Barry has recently had his season ended by the prospect of minor knee surgery next week.Embed from Getty Images
Swansea were given a major boost this week by the immediate return of Sam Clucas to first-team training, banishing worries over a major injury for the midfielder. He should be guaranteed a start this weekend, while Tammy Abraham could find himself rewarded for an excellent cameo against Manchester United with a start this weekend. Apart from the long-term absentees of Wilfried Bony and Leroy Fer, Swansea have no more injury concerns, with Jordan Ayew returning to the first-team after this weekend’s suspension is served.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Nyom, Gibbs, Evans, Hegazi, Dawson, Yacob, Livermore, Brunt, Rondón, Rodriguez.
Swansea City: Fabianski, Fernandez, Mawson, Van der Hoorn, Olsson, Naughton, Ki Sung-Yeung, Clucas, King, A. Ayew, Abraham.
Prediction: West Bromwich Albion 1 – Swansea City 2
After eight Premier League defeats in a row, it is difficult to back West Brom, now or for the rest of the season. Although there is always hope that a managerial change will bring a huge boost to the team, West Brom’s players look too resigned to their fate, with plans for life in the Championship being near-publicly discussed by the members of the board.
Swansea need to win games like this, and their drive and determination under Carvalhal is present in every game they play, whether that be away to Manchester United or to West Brom. Although relegation for West Brom cannot be confirmed for another two weeks, it should be difficult for them to match the motivation of their guests at the Hawthorns. For the home team, eyes are already firmly placed at a league below this one.
Written by Jack Hall.
22. An often foolishly optimistic Swansea City fan, writing previews and reports for 90MAAT. Currently finishing a Masters in Film at Southampton University. @apuffofJack