West Bromwich Albion continue their fight to stay in the Premier League when they welcome title challenging Manchester City to the Hawthorns on Tuesday night.
Albion are second from bottom in the top flight table and are at least 6 points from safety after 19 games, which is one more than 18th placed Fulham who sit above them in the standings.
The fight to maintain their Premier League status this season has been a difficult one after a couple of testing years in the Championship which ultimately resulted in promotion under the management of Slaven Bilic last season.
Despite this, the Baggies moved to sack the Croatian before Christmas, installing Sam Allardyce as his replacement – ‘Big Sam’ as he is colloquially known has never before been relegated from the top flight as a manager.
However, this may be the toughest task yet for the former England boss, who has only managed to win one game so far since taking charge – although that was the Black Country derby against Wolves – and if there is one game Albion fans would choose to win, that would be it.
West Brom have comfortably conceded the most goals in the division this campaign and also have the worst goal difference, so points are paramount even at this early stage of the season just in case things do need to be decided more mathematically.
Welcoming an in-form Manchester City side to the West Midlands will arguably be as difficult as it gets for the Baggies, particularly considering Pep Guardiola’s side are in the midst of a 10-game winning streak in the Premier League. The last time City failed to win a top flight game was a 1-1 draw with their opponents West Brom earlier on in the season.
City’s rampant form of late has seen them climb back in to the title hunt, and a win at the Hawthorns will see them leapfrog rivals Manchester United at the summit of the Premier League.
United do play basement boys Sheffield United later on in the week, but psychologically for City it will be a boost to reside on top, at the very least until Wednesday’s game at Old Trafford has finished.
Further encouragement for Pep Guardiola comes in the fact that City to have a game in hand over the rest of their fellow title contenders, with United, Leicester and Liverpool all having played 19 times in the league to Man City’s 18.
A dampener though for the City boss is that Kevin De Bruyne will be sidelined for 4-6 weeks with a muscle injury.
Sergio Aguero will also be unavailable as he continues to recover from coronavirus – City’s record scorer hasn’t netted a Premier League goal now in over a year.
In defence, Nathan Ake is once again expected to miss out but Kyle Walker could return after missing the recent FA Cup game with Cheltenham Town.
For West Brom, Matt Phillips and Karlan Grant return to contention after recovering from Covid-19. Grady Diangana and Conor Townsend will miss out though with knocks.
West Brom v Manchester City kicks off at 8.15pm on Tuesday 26th January.