West Bromwich Albion face Leicester City at the Hawthorns this weekend and it’s difficult to find something new to say about what seems to be the Baggies’ doomed efforts to stay in the Premier League.
For any Albion fans that retain any hope, it is perhaps best to talk about their opponents this weekend. Three years ago, the Foxes were also rock bottom of the table after 29 games. They had just 19 points, were 7 points from safety, and had won just two league games since September including a run of just one point from eleven games the previous autumn. They beat West Ham at home in game 30, followed that up with a 3-2 win at the Hawthorns on what was Astle Day, and ended up finishing in 14th place after collecting 22 points from their last 9 games. They then, of course, won the Premier League the following season.
So it is possible to get out of the predicament that the Baggies find themselves, but the key difference is that Leicester had maintained good spirit within the squad and had players such as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez. Having said that, we didn’t appreciate how good those players would be come at this point three years ago, but it’s difficult to see any of the current Albion squad suddenly starting to have the impact those two did for Leicester. Vardy’s winning goal at the Hawthorns was just his third of the season, but can we really see Rondón or Rodriguez scoring 24 goals Premier League next season?
I suppose it just goes to prove that you can’t always predict what will happen, and that is why we love this beautiful game. It is possible that, should the Baggies register their first Premier League win over Leicester this weekend, it could spark something, but it does seem highly unlikely.
Defeat at Watford last weekend has not seen the end of Alan Pardew’s tenure at the Hawthorns as was expected. The performance was better than against Huddersfield, but I don’t think that saved Pardew. I think it’s more to do with the lack of available replacements and the desire to avoid any more upheaval at the club.
Assuming Albion are relegated, Pardew will almost certainly leave the club in the summer. There is, apparently, a break clause at the end of the season, so it would be a natural decision. It is much more sensible to look for a new man to take the club forward in the close season when candidates would be much more likely to consider a move. It seems unlikely that any good candidate would be willing to take the club on at this stage and put a relegation on their CV for no good reason.
What the performance at Vicarage Road did show, in my opinion, is that the players are still playing for Pardew, unlike the situation with Pulis in November. They put the effort in and deserved something from the game, but were found wanting in the key areas as they have done all season. It wasn’t for a lack of application that they lost, but a lack of quality. Rondón has improved under Pardew but continues to miss gilt-edged chances, while Jonny Evans’ worth is getting closer to his £3m release clause by the game. If Albion can keep that level of application and get a little bit of luck, they could start to pick up points.
While Albion haven’t lost in Leicester for almost a quarter of a century, their record against the Foxes at the Hawthorns in recent years has been dreadful. Leicester have won all three of the Premier League meetings between the sides and have won on six of their last eight trips to the Shrine in the league.
That contrasts wildly with a run of fifteen league meetings at the Hawthorns between 1948 and 1971 during which Leicester failed to register a aingle victory with the Baggies winning ten and five finishing all square. That included a remarkable ten-goal match in September 1954 when Johnny Nicholls scored a hat trick to add to goals from Frank Griffin, Ronnie Allen and George Lee as Vic Buckingham’s Albion ran out 6-4 winners.
Albion’s record win over Leicester also came in that period in March 1965, Astle (2), Howshall, Clark, Foggo and Williams all scoring in a 6-0 thumping. Leicester’s record win at the Hawthorns came way back in 1905 when Leicester Fosse, as they were then known, won 5-2 in the Intermediate Round of the FA Cup. Their record league win is somewhat more recent; Steve Howard scored a hat trick in a 4-1 win in March 2008 in what turned out to be Albion’s final league defeat of the Championship-winning season.
I fancy Albion to get something for once, but only a draw.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
16 Oct 2017 – Premier League
Leicester City 1 (Mahrez)
West Brom 1 (Chadli)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
29 Apr 2017 – Premier League
West Brom 0
Leicester City 1 (Vardy)
6 Nov 2016 – Premier League
Leicester City 1 (Slimani)
West Brom 2 (Morrison, Phillips)
Last win at the Hawthorns
2 Apr 2010 – League Championship
West Brom 3 (Morrison, Koren (2))
Leicester City 0
Albion’s Record against Leicester City
|Premier League Record|