Welcome to IntoTheTopCorner’s team-by-team preview to the new Barclays Premier League season. Here we look at West Bromwich Albion’s vital stats, their summer transfers and analyse their chances.
Manager: Steve Clarke.
Captain: Chris Brunt.
Stadium: The Hawthorns (26,272).
Last season: 10th.
Leading scorer (PL): Peter Odemwingie (9).
Odds: Title 2000-1. Relegation 7-2.
In: Yassine El Ghanassy (Loan, Genk), Ben Foster (£4.4m, Birmingham), Romelu Lukaku (Loan, Chelsea), Markus Rosenberg (Free, Werder Bremen), Claudio Yacob (Free, Racing Club de Avellaneda).
Out: Lateef Elford-Alliyu (Free, Bury), Kieth Andrews (Free, Bolton), Simon Cox (£2m, Nottingham), Paul Downing (Free, Walsall), Marton Fulop (Free, Ast. Tripolis), Joe Mattock (Free, Sheff Wed), Paul Scharner (Free, Hambuerger), Nicky Shorey (Free, Reading), Somen Tchoyi (Released).
Key Man – Ben Foster
The former Manchester United shot-stopper was the Baggies star performer last term and was named the Fans’ Player Of the Year and the Players’ Player of the Year. He is arguably the second-best English goalkeeper behind Joe Hart and Hodgson wanted the keeper to come out of a self-imposed England excile for Euro 2012 given his form. His form this season will be vital for the Baggies and the number of clean sheets he manages could be the difference between survival and relegation.
18-Aug – Liverpool (H)
25-Aug – Tottenham (A)
01-Sep – Everton (H)
15-Sep – Fulham (A)
22-Sep – Reading (H)
30-Sep – Aston Villa (A)
Probable Formation (4-4-2): Foster; Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Gera, Dorrans, Mulumbu, Brunt; Lukaku, Rosenberg.
Verdict: Steve Clarke has a tough task to deal with after Roy Hodgson left for the England job, but the Baggies have a strong enough squad to stay safe and survive this season, especially with arrival of Romelu Lukaku on loan from Chelsea. The Baggies are strongest up front, Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long are goal threats, even before the addition of the Belgium international. However the defence isn’t as strong as the attack but good enough to keep them up. This is the first real test of Clarke’s managerial abilities and it could mean a tricky season. I expect the Baggies to survive but just.