Sports Mole previews Friday’s Championship clash between West Bromwich Albion and Blackpool, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
This week’s visitors to the Hawthorns, Blackpool, occupy 16th spot and are looking to return to winning ways after four consecutive outings without victory.
Steve Bruce had to bide his time to secure his first win as manager of the Baggies, but since that first victory against Hull at the beginning of March, West Brom have put together a decent run of results.
However, Friday’s hosts will have to bounce back from a loss last time out, when they welcomed Stoke City to the West Midlands and suffered a 3-1 defeat, despite creating as many chances as their visitors.
The Baggies have only lost three games on home soil this season, during which time they have conceded just 15 goals in 20 matches, the joint second best record in the division.
At the other end of the pitch, though, West Brom have not managed to score as many goals as the majority of the sides above them in the table, suggesting that they will look to prioritise keeping a clean sheet on Friday.
Neil Critchley‘s side have continued to slip down the Championship in recent weeks, but they did prevent a third consecutive defeat by earning a 1-1 draw against playoff-chasing Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
The Tangerines went 1-0 behind within 10 minutes of that game, but an early second-half strike from Marvin Ekpiteta ensured that the visitors took a point from their Lancashire counterparts.
Blackpool have only won once in their last 12 matches in all competitions on their travels, dating back to the end of October, but they have managed to secure many draws away from home since then which has kept their points tally ticking over.
West Brom have won possession in their attacking final third the most out of any side in the second tier, meaning that Critchley’s side can expect to be pressed highly on Friday.
In the reverse fixture at Bloomfield Road in November, these two teams played out a goalless draw but the Baggies, in particular, would have come away from that encounter wondering how they did not pick up two more points, having created many chances on goal.
West Bromwich Albion Championship form:
Blackpool Championship form:
West Brom striker Daryl Dike will continue to be absent from the Baggies’ squad due to a tendon injury, which has ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.
Centre-back Kean Bryan has not featured since the beginning of April due to a knee injury, and while he is expected to make his return to the pitch this month, Friday’s outing has come too soon for the 25-year-old.
Meanwhile for the visitors, Dujon Sterling, Grant Ward, Luke Garbutt and Sonny Carey are ruled out due to injury and Chris Maxwell will continue between the posts after Daniel Grimshaw was forced off after just 20 minutes against Preston earlier this month.
Jordan Thorniley came back into the defensive four last time out, and is expected to keep his place alongside Ekpiteta, with James Husband and Jordan Gabriel likely to operate in the full-back positions.
West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; Ajayi, Bartley, Clarke; Townsend, Mowatt, Livermore, Molumby, Gardner-Hickman; Carroll, Diangana
Blackpool possible starting lineup:
Maxwell; Husband, Thorniley, Ekpiteta, Gabriel; Robson, Dougall; Hamilton, Anderson, Bowler; Madine
We say: West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Blackpool
Bruce’s side will expect themselves to pick up three points on Friday, after recording some impressive victories on home soil against Fulham and Bournemouth which should give the hosts confidence.
Blackpool are in a difficult spell having gone four games without a win, but three of those four matches have been tight affairs which is why the Tangerines are likely to create some problems for West Brom.