Derby day in the West Midlands returns to the Premier League arena this weekend as West Bromwich Albion travel to rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers.
It has been almost nine years since these two Black Country clubs last did battle and the trajectory of both sides makes for interesting reading in that time frame.
Since new owners arrived at Molineux in 2017, Wolves have gained promotion to the Premier League and secured successive seventh placed finishes in the top flight.
Neighbours West Brom meanwhile saw their Premier League journey come to an end in 2018 before returning to the first tier of English football last season.
It’s fair to argue that the bragging rights in recent times regarding overall success fall firmly in the corner of Wolves, but from a head-to-head perspective Baggies fans have always been swift to remind their rivals of the 1-5 hammering they gave them when the two sides last met in 2012.
The landscape is slightly different this season though, with Albion getting rid of boss Slaven Bilic last month in favour of Sam Allardyce as they battle to beat the drop, whilst Wolves have not looked their usual selves in what has been a lacklustre campaign for them so far.
Allardyce is searching for his first win as West Brom manager since taking charge, with the Baggies’ last three points coming in late November against fellow strugglers Sheffield United.
Albion’s leaky defence is a major concern for ‘Big Sam’, whose side have shipped thirteen goals in their last four matches whilst registering just one strike of their own.
Interestingly, it has been Wolves’ bluntness upfront since the injury to Raul Jimenez in late November which has been their main issue – boss Nuno Espirito Santo has been relying on 18-year-old record signing Fabio Silva to fill the void left by the Mexican, with the youngster yet to really hit his stride.
As such, Wolves have recalled Patrick Cutrone from his loan spell at Serie A Fiorentina in order to increase firepower, with the club no doubt considering whether to swoop for another forward in the January window.
Underlining this is the fact that Wanderers have scored just 19 goals this season – considerably fewer than any of the 13 sides currently above them in the Premier League table.
Jimenez remains out for Wanderers for the derby at Molineux with that fractured skull, as does fellow long-term injury absentee Jonny Otto.
Recent injuries to Marcal and Daniel Podence means they will miss out against West Brom, but Nuno Espirito Santo will need to make a decision on Adama Traore’s fitness after complaints of a tight hamstring.
Willy Boly is also a major doubt to feature for Wolves following a hamstring issue of his own.
Albion meanwhile have fewer selection concerns, although Sam Allardyce will be missing Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher after an accumulation of yellow cards landed him a suspension.
Recent signing Karlan Grant is also ruled out for West Bromwich Albion with a broken foot.
Hal Robson-Kanu and Conor Townsend have both been missing for a while and are extremely unlikely to travel to Molineux.
The West Midlands derby between Wolves and West Brom is a 12.30pm kick off on Saturday 16th January.