The FourFourTwo Preview: West Brom vs Norwich
The game Soccer Saturday will give to John Salako.
Does Chris Hughton believe in his team? It sounds like a harsh question, but it’s one Norwich supporters may ponder as they look nervously at the league table.
WEST BROM FORM
- West Brom 2-3 Man City (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-1 West Brom (Prem)
- West Brom 2-2 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-2 West Brom (Prem)
- West Brom 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Liverpool 5-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Norwich 1-0 Palace (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Norwich 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
Their biannual shellacking by Liverpool was the latest example this season of the charcoal-haired manager setting up his team to make life hard for a talented opposition, only to throw in the towel after a quarter of an hour.
Norwich have lost 5-1 to Liverpool (first goal after 15 minutes), 7-0 to Manchester City (16 mins), 4-1 to Arsenal (18 mins) and 4-0 to Manchester United in the League Cup (20 mins). It’s like they’re parking the bus, but only for a brief fill-up.
Now, it isn’t easy to face an in-form Luis Suarez (West Brom can sympathise, being the other victims of a Suarez hat-trick this season), but rarely has a team looked so doomed from the moment they concede the first goal. That’s when a team must battle. And against big teams, Hughton isn’t looking like a man with a fight in him.
It’s hard to know what to make of West Brom at the moment (except the anagram ‘web storm’). Steve Clarke’s men are scoring goals – nine in their last five – and playing without fear, beating Man United and drawing with Arsenal and Chelsea.
But they’ve been slipshod of late, the only win in their last eight outings coming against a feckless Crystal Palace side. In fact, they’re only a point above Norwich.
Conceding to unstoppable strikes and the odd dodgy penalty, it’s partly been bad luck that’s put the Baggies as low as 13th, but at the same time their defence has been leakier lately than Bayern Munich’s dressing room, shipping 13 goals in six games.
This is the beginning of a gentle run-up to Christmas – Norwich, Cardiff, Hull – so a clean sheet and a win could make for a nice leg-up.
Boaz Myhill continues to play for a Wales place in sticks as West Brom No.1 Ben Foster sits on the sidelines. Nicolas Anelka should return and Scott Sinclair is in line to play the team he’ll probably sign for next summer. There’s still no Thorne in the side, as young midfielder George nurses his ACL injury.
The visitors are without record signing Ricky van Wolfswinkel and long-term absence Elliott Bennett, as well as Alex ‘ouchy ankle’ Tettey and the Dickensian-named trio of Mr Bunn, Mr Pilkington and Mr Snodgrass.
Player to watch: Nathan Redmond (Norwich)
Redmond’s recall to the side has been a bright spot for Norwich fans, the winger showing attacking intent against opposition full-backs while also putting in his fair share of tackles. Redmond created 4 chances in the defeat to Liverpool, including the assist for Bradley Johnson’s headed goal, and against Crystal Palace he put in 18 – EIGHTEEN – crosses as well as winning all 5 of his attempted tackles. A successful duel with Steven Reid could be vital to Norwich’s chances of a win.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Norwich 4-0 WBA (Prem, May 13)
- WBA 2-1 Norwich (Prem, Dec 12)
- WBA 1-2 Norwich (FAC, Jan 12)
- WBA 1-2 Norwich (Prem, Jan 12)
- Norwich 0-1 WBA (Prem, Sep 11)
Criticising Hughton is a fast-track to feeling guilty, because as we all know, he’s a Lovely Bloke. But he is under pressure for unambitious performances after spending richly in the summer. Norwich have lost their last five away games, conceding 22 goals – one every 20 minutes. Hughton won’t admit to feeling pressure, but there’s a canary-yellow spotlight on him right now. Steve Clarke, on the other hand, has said there’s “a little bit of pressure” on Albion after back-to-back defeats. The consecutive 2-2 draws with Chelsea and Aston Villa, both of which should have been won, are still hurting. Much will depend on whether he treats the wounded Canaries with caution or goes in for the kill.
Facts and figures
West Brom have scored exactly 2 goals in each of their last 3 games at The Hawthorns but have won only 1 of those games (D1 L1).
More facts at FFT's West Brom vs Norwich Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
TIPS & TRENDS
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- West Brom have won 7of their last 11 home games against bottom-six teams.
- Only Sunderland have won fewer games than West Brom (3) but they are draw specialists; drawing a league high number of matches (6).
- The Baggies have picked up just 1 win in 8.
- Norwich have conceded a league-high 28 goals so far this campaign (along with Sunderland) and have let in 18 in their last 4 away trips.
- They have lost 6 of their last 8 away encounters with middle-third teams, recording L/L results on 5 occasions.
Find the best odds with Bet Butler
The monkey’s building a house on Hughton’s back. 2-1 and three points in the bag(gies).