West Brom welcome new manager Allardyce as they take on Villa in West Midlands derby
West Brom 1-1 Aston Villa
The middle of last week saw the departure of the first Premier League manager of the season.
Slaven Bilic paid the price for a poor start to the season and, even though his side earned a point against Manchester City, lost his job after just seven points from 39 available so far.
In comes Sam Allardyce then, well known to the Premier League, especially to those teams struggling near the bottom of the table. He is a specialist at turning poor sides into decent ones and The Baggies will hope he can save their season.
Aston Villa continue to be unpredictable in their performances, often brilliant though sometimes a little naïve in their play.
By the time this fixture comes around, Villa will have three matches in hand over most teams who play earlier in the weekend. Win all of those and they’d go 2nd, but they face a tough fixture here, first of all.
Form Guide (all comps): LWLLD
Reasons to be cheerful:
New manager coming in will provide boost
Deserved their point against Manchester City
Reasons to be fearful:
Have much to improve upon to climb out of bottom three
Villa have been the much better of the two this season
So, he’s back again – the man who many struggling teams bring in to save their season by hauling the players up by the bootstraps and demanding an instant response.
In fairness, it usually works. He’s won five of his six opening matches as a Premier League manager in the past. He’s well known for improving the players he has within his squad, as well as making his teams tougher to play against.
West Brom could use it – they’ve conceded the highest number of goals in the league, with only two teams scoring fewer too.
With the players he has, Allardyce is unlikely to help his team score more, but he’ll certainly improve the number of goals they are conceding.
Star Man – Sam Johnstone
Had an unbelievable night in goal against City in midweek. He can help them be more solid at the back.
Form Guide (all comps): WLLWD
Reasons to be cheerful
Won four out of five away games this season
Kept a league-high six clean sheets
Reasons to be fearful
Unpredictable nature has seen them lose four matches
Just one win from four
With new West Brom manager Sam Allardyce possessing such a strong record for his first matches in charge, Aston Villa are a tad unlucky that they are the first side The Baggies face since his appointment.
Regardless, Villa will still be confident of getting the job done, especially considering their strong away performances this season.
They have been without several key players over the past couple of weeks, though the likes of Ross Barkley, Matty Cash and Douglas Luiz could all return to boost the quality in Dean Smith’s side.
Villa will find it tough to play against West Brom this weekend, but they have shown themselves to have an extra layer of quality compared with last season.
Star Man – Ross Barkley
Has been terrific since joining, scoring twice, and assisting once in six matches. His return from injury will be welcome.
Could be a tight fixture
Villa slight favourites based on form
Expect an improvement from West Brom
West Brom fully deserved their point against Manchester City and with a new manager, you could expect further improvements from them.
However, Aston Villa have been a great team at times this season, playing with real freedom and some added quality which has helped them beat the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal.
It’ll be a tight fixture which could end up all square.
West Brom 1-1 Aston Villa