West Bromwich Albion head to Ashton Gate unbeaten in four league games with 7th place Bristol City next in their sights. Bristol City are in fine form themselves having won five of their last seven league games and are harbouring promotion aspirations of their own.
West Bromwich Albion Unbeaten in Four
West Brom are unbeaten in four games in February; they are looking to make it three straight wins on the road when they face Bristol City this weekend. Top of the table Albion have won three of their last four. But, they were left disgruntled last time out against Nottingham Forest as Matt Cash’s stoppage time equaliser cost them points.
Bristol City launched themselves into playoff contention with three wins from four in January, only suffering defeat against Brentford on the 1st. But an inconsistent February has seen them earn two victories and two defeats, losses coming at the hands of Birmingham City and Leeds United. They’ve taken six points from the last 12 available to them, West Brom have taken 10.
Bristol City have been hit with a sickness bug that saw only 12 players fit to train in midweek but they expect to have most back by Friday. At just six points behind Leeds, automatic promotion remains a possibility for the Robins though the playoffs is the more likely target. The fixture at Ashton Gate looks set to be a compelling one.
West Bromwich Albion Formation Change
West Bromwich Albion are certainly over their winter slump that saw them drop a 12 point lead over third place to just four. They struggled to handle the loss of Grady Diangana from their attack and for a while it threatened to derail their season. However, the arrival of Callum Robinson on loan and the tweak of system to accommodate Filip Krovinovic has worked wonders for the Baggies.
Slaven Bilić changed his system to a 4-3-3 and has seen instantaneous reward with Robinson and Krovinovic working well in tandem with Hal Robson-Kanu and Matheus Pereira. Robson-Kanu plays the central striker role and it’s his dogged determination and hold-up play that allows those around him to flourish.
Robinson, Pereira and Krovinovic have seemingly struck up a dangerous partnership; they have all found themselves on the scoresheet in recent weeks. Added to this, their strength from the bench is staggering, they have the resources to add players like Matt Phillips, Kamil Grosicki, Charlie Austin to the fold with Diangana still to return.
Slaven Bilić has again called for more protection for Matheus Pereira following Albion’s 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest. Pereira once again proved to be a handful for the opposition as he set up Robinson for the opening goal of the game after dispossessing Forest midfielder Samba Sow. But not for the first time this season the Brazilian playmaker was subject to rough treatment from the competition; he required treatment on more than one occasion.
Pereira has garnered plenty of attention since his move to the Midlands, catching the eye of a number of Premier League clubs. He is set to make his move to The Hawthorns a permanent one soon. Personal terms already agreed on the £8.25m deal that becomes an obligation after 30 appearances, he has made 25.
One of Bristol City’s standout individuals this season has been goalkeeper Dan Bentley; he again demonstrated his quality in their 1-0 defeat to Leeds last time out. The game at Elland Road saw Leeds dominate and in truth could’ve inflicted a heavy defeat on Bristol City, but for Bentley, who made a string of important saves. Twice denying Helder Costa with fine saves.
Bentley has managed to keep 10 clean sheets so far this season, only Kiko Casilla of Leeds (13) and Christian Walton of Blackburn Rovers (11) have more. A stat that perhaps explains why Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson made the claim in October that his goalkeeper wasn’t far from an England call-up.