The FourFourTwo Preview: West Brom vs Hull
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It's a fair bet that West Brom's name came up in the taverns of Kingston-upon-Hull following the Tigers' promotion in May. The Baggies, finishing eighth in the top flight through clever coaching and prudent purchasing rather than big-name high-ticket signings, seemed the template to follow.
WEST BROM FORM
- Cardiff 1-0 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 0-2 Norwich (Prem)
- WBA 2-3 Man City (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-1 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 2-2 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Hull 0-0 Stoke (Prem)
- Swansea 1-1 Hull (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-0 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 3-1 Liverpool (Prem)
- Hull 0-1 Palace (Prem)
Fast forward seven months and Albion are two points above the drop zone, managerless and wondering what went wrong. Meanwhile, Hull have already collected 19 points, almost halfway to the usual target for promoted sides.
Not that all is well at the KC, though: off the field, the fans are somewhat unchuffed with the owner's plans and on it, Steve Bruce's side have only won two of their 10 league games since September.
Bar the Liverpool game, they've only scored once at home since September – and with four points from eight trips this season, their away form isn't going to save them.
It's probably fair to say Bruce would happily take three or four of the attacking talents his hosts can choose from, and only Fulham and Norwich have conceded more or the road.
That said, the Baggies have lost four on the spin and have only beaten Sunderland and Palace at home. It points to a nervy afternoon between two teams who may choose not to lose rather than go jockstraps-out for the win, at least to start with.
For West Brom, who knows? Caretaker Keith Downing can choose from what some say is the best Baggies squad since the Falklands War. Victor Anichebe may be available again but Nicolas Anelka is still unfit.
Hull have no new niggles so Bruce could play three or four at the back.
Players to watch: Maynor Figueroa, Ahmed Elmohamady (Hull)
It may give Tom Huddlestone room to play but without decent wing-backs, a back three is a back five with delusions. Right-sider Elmohamady has been one of Hull's busiest bodies all season - against Stoke last week, he attempted 50 passes. Hull need Manny Figueroa, who has wing-back experience at Roberto Martinez's Wigan, to be as impressive high up on the left if they are to make their system attacking as well as defensive.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Hull 2-2 WBA (Prem, Jan 09)
- WBA 0-3 Hull (Prem, Oct 08)
- WBA 1-2 Hull (C’ship, Feb 08)
- Hull 1-3 WBA (C’ship, Jan 08)
- Hull 0-1 WBA (C’ship, Feb 07)
Clarke's canning makes it four of the bottom five to have changed managers, and the Throstles may hope to take flight like the Eagles did after Ian Holloway left Palace. For Keith Millen read Keith Downing, who has rarely left the West Midlands in an unremarkable football career involving a surprising amount of Wolves. His middle name is Gordon, whereas Steve Bruce's is Roger.
TIPS & TRENDS
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Facts and figures
There have been 3 or more goals in 8 of the Baggies' last 11 home matches against middle-third teams.
Hull have conceded the opening goal in all but 1 of their away games this season.
The Tigers have lost by 2 or more goals in 4 of their 8 away games.
- West Brom have had a league-high 5 shots cleared off the line this season in the Premier League.
- Hull have won their last 2 league trips away at West Brom.
More FFT Stats Zone facts • Find the best odds with Bet Butler
Tight and nervous, but quite possibly not a thriller: Hull to win 1-0.