Bolton Wanderers travel to the Hawthorns on the opening weekend of the Championship season. Phil Parkinson’s side will face a strong and new look West Brom team as Darren Moore looks to start strong in his new role as permanent boss of the Albion.
West Brom v Bolton Wanderers
New Look West Brom
The new look West Brom side will go into the season as title contenders following their relegation from the Premier League last time out. Albion have immediately returned to the top division following three of their last four relegations. On the one occasion they failed to secure an instant return, they were beaten in the play-off final.
Since being given the role on a permanent basis following a strong finish to last season, Darren Moore has slowly and methodically built an exciting side that he feels will be competitive, cherry-picking young and exciting players from around the Football League as well as securing former Belgium coach Graeme Jones as his number two. The Baggies look ready to start their new campaign the same way they ended their last.
Question marks are still looming over the future of a couple of West Brom stars. Frontman Salomon Rondon has been heavily linked to Newcastle in recent weeks but, with talks having broken down again, Albion are still unsure of who will be their main goal threat this season.
Hal Robson-Kanu has been finding the net in pre-season and Jay Rodriguez impressed last season. Although, Rodriguez isn’t exactly certain to stay himself as West Brom play hardball with Burnley over a fee for the striker.
West Brom’s defiance is something that Burnley have been fighting against all summer, having also been refused a deal for want away defender Craig Dawson. The 28-year-old may not be involved this weekend having expressed his desire to end his eight-year stay at the Hawthorns. The arrival of Kyle Bartley from Swansea has seemingly opened the exit door for Dawson, who made 30 appearances in all competitions last season. However, not unless Albion’s valuation has been met.
Bolton Looking for Improvement
The Trotters have made wholesale changes themselves throughout the summer, bringing in a wave of new players as they look to improve on their disappointing 21st place finish last season. However, following a difficult season was a difficult summer as Bolton struggled to prove through pre-season that this campaign would be any better.
Phil Parkinson has managed to negotiate a terrific bit of business with the signing of Yanic Wildschut. The 26-year-old winger made ten appearances in Cardiff City’s promotion winning campaign last season. He will be looking to help his new side from the outset as Bolton look to cause an upset in the West Midlands.
West Brom have been great in the final third in pre-season, notching 12 goals in four games. Moore has seemingly fixed one of Albion’s biggest flaws in recent seasons which is goals. They’ve also notably picked up team spirits this summer, another issue they faced throughout last seasons toxic campaign. Moore and his team hope to prove such character early in the new campaign.
Bolton haven’t been able to reach such consistency and this will be worrying ahead of this clash. The Trotters only managed two wins from their five pre-season fixtures, struggling to beat even the less challenging teams along the way.
West Brom: Johnstone; Gibbs, Hegazi, Bartley, Nyom; Barnes, Livermore, Brunt, Phillips; Rodriguez, Rondon.
Bolton: Alnwick; Taylor, Wilson, Olkowski, Little; Wildschut, Murphy, Oztumer; Ameobi, Magennis, Le Fondre.
It feels like a longshot for Bolton to cause an upset in this one.
West Brom 3-1 Bolton.