West Brom Can Close the Gap on Norwich

WEST BROMWICH, ENGLAND - JANUARY 05: Bakary Sako of West Bromwich Albion celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 1-0 with team mates during the FA Cup Third Round match between West Bromwich Albion v Wigan Athletic at The Hawthorns on January 5, 2019 in West Bromwich, United Kingdom. (Photo by Adam Fradgley - AMA/WBA FC via Getty Images)

West Brom can close the gap on Norwich City when the two sides meet this weekend. The two sides are separated by just three points with the Canaries sitting in second and Darren Moore’s Baggies hot on their heels in fourth. Victory at The Hawthorns will push West Brom above their promotion rivals and secure a league double over Norwich.

West Brom Can Close the Gap to Norwich

Baggies Look to Bounce Back

West Brom’s last league outing ended in defeat as ten-man Baggies were beaten by bottom-half strugglers Blackburn Rovers. This was just the second win since the start of November for Blackburn, who are 15th in the Championship, while the Baggies dropped one place to fourth as they lost for the first time in two months, bringing their nine-game unbeaten run to an end.

The Baggies will come into this game with their batteries recharged after Darren Moore made wholesale changes to his team for their FA Cup tie. Moore’s back-up side booked their place in the fourth round of the competition courtesy of a routine 1-0 win against Wigan. 

West Brom will miss midfielder Jake Livermore, who is serving a four-match ban following his red card against Blackburn. They could, however, be boosted by the possible return of Dwight Gayle and Ahmed Hegazi, both players having been missed through injury. 

Norwich Slipping 

Norwich will be desperate to get their own promotion push back on track following a downturn in form that sees them winless in four games, including their FA Cup third round exit at the hands of League One leaders Portsmouth. Daniel Farke’s side are yet to suffer back-to-back defeats this season and will look to continue that trend at The Hawthorns on Saturday. 

Despite their recent dip in form, the Canaries still occupy one of the automatic promotion places. However, the coming weeks could make or break Norwich’s promotion push with three of their next four games pitting them against the other teams that currently fill the top four. Their trip to The Hawthorns is hastily followed by Sheffield United at home on January 26th and Leeds away on February 2nd.

Expect Goals 

Nothing is certain in football, but expecting goals from this clash runs as close as possible to certainty. West Brom are comfortably the league’s highest scorers, netting 54 goals already this season, whilst Norwich are the third highest, themselves bagging 48.

Both sides have had little trouble finding the net so far this season. Norwich have largely relied on the scintillating form of one man, Teemu Pukki. The Finnish striker joined Norwich on a free transfer in the summer after failing to agree a deal with his previous club, Brøndby. Pukki has amassed 16 goals and four assists, with his first Norwich goal coming in the reverse fixture against West Brom earlier this season.

West Brom prefer to share their goals. Dwight Gayle and Jay Rodriguez both have 13 and two assists to their name. Midfield loanee Harvey Barnes has nine goals and six assists with others around him helping out with a fair few. 

Norwich and West Brom shared seven goals between them in the fixture played at Carrow Road earlier this season. High-scoring games are not uncommon for these highly-entertaining sides.

Closing the Gap

Claiming victory in this game will be hugely beneficial to promotion aspirations with the top of the table being so tight. Just five points separate the top four, with two of that top four looking set to put on a show.

West Brom have the second-best home record in the league, visitors Norwich have the best record on the road. Both score goals for fun, both capable of a head-turning result. Settle in for this one, it has all the makings of a classic.

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