The fixture computer has given Albion a tough start with last season’s top two visiting the Hawthorns for the Baggies’ first two home matches of the season. Both of those games are televised starting with Manchester City on Monday evening.
City have had a mixed pre-season, have beaten the sides you’d expect them to, but losing heavily to Real Madrid and Stuttgart, and beating Roma on a penalty shoot-out in the “International Champions Cup”. If Pellegrini, who signed a new contract this week opts to rest some of his South American players as expected, it could prove to be a good time to play City.
With Jovetic and Dzeko having left in the summer, they do seem to be short of numbers in the striking department with just Augero, Bony and the 17-year-old, Iheanacho, left at the club. Having said that, City normally play with just one up front supported by two attacking midfielders, and they are not short of those! It will, of course, be a massive test for the Baggies.
Albion haven’t tasted victory over Manchester City since 2010 when second half goals from Gianni Zuiverloon and Simon Cox gave them a 2-1 victory in the third round of the Carling Cup. In the Premier League, the Baggies were last victorious in December 2008 when a last minute goal from Roman Bednar secured the points after Luke Moore’s opener was cancelled out by Felipe Caicedo with four minutes left.
That is Albion’s only Premier League victory over City in the Abu Dhabu era although they managed two such victories at the Hawthorns in 2005, both by two goals to nil. The first of those, in January of that year, was a hugely important early step on the road to the Great Escape. Kevin Campbell gave the Baggies an early lead (pictured left), but the game remained in the balance until Ronnie Wallwork’s header secured the points with nine minutes to go. Campbell also scored in the December fixture – he got the second, adding to “Joe” Kamara’s opener in a rare highlight in that disastrous season. In recent years, Abion’s one brief highlight was a 0-0 draw at the Shrine on Boxing Day 2011.
There was another year when Albion managed consecutive victories against City at the Hawthorns by the same scoreline. In April 1979, Albion were still hot on the heels of Liverpool in the race for the Championship and the Sky Blues were one of Albion’s games in hand on a Wednesday night. The visitors were put to the sword at the Hawthorns as David Mills (England’s first half-million pound player signed on the previous New Year’s Day – pictured right with Paul Power in 1981), Kevin Summerfield and John Trewick added to Paul Power’s own goal in a 4-0 victory. The Baggies championship challenge may have ultimately failed, but when City returned to the Hawthorns in September, the hosts were back on form as goals from Ally Brown and former City player Gary Owen, and a brace from Bryan Robson sent them packing once again with a 4-0 defeat.
City’s biggest win at the Hawthorns was also by four goals to nil back in 1956 when Bobby Johnstone (2), Joe Hayes and Jack Dyson got the goals. But Albion got their revenge the following year with their biggest win, an incredible match which saw Bobby Robson, Don Howe (2, 1 pen), Brian Whitehouse, Frank Griffin (3), Derek Kevan (pen) and Roy Horobin all on the scoresheet in a 9-2 victory.
Albion’s latest new face, Serge Gnabry, was not signed in time to be available for this match, but McClean, Lambert and Chester are all likely to make their debuts. It will be interesting to see who lines up across the back – Lescott and McAuley have both had knocks this week but are expected to be fit for Monday. Based on the later pre-season games, we could see Craig Gardner at right back although James Chester started there in the final friendly against Bristol Rovers. Chris Brunt and James McClean have both started games at left back.
A bug has affected a number of the City camp in recent days, but according to the club, David Silva and Samir Nasir have both recovered. Aguero, Fernandinho, Zabaleta and Dimichelis are available for selection but, as they all returned late to pre-season from the Copa America, Pellegrini may opt to rest one or two. Gael Clichy (ankle) and new signing Fabian Delph (hamstring) are both injury doubts for Monday’s match, the former Villa man having suffered the injury just minutes into his first game in a City shirt.
Given the temptation to rest the South Americans, Raheem Sterling (right) is likely to make his City debut. Their other signing in summer, teenager Patrick Roberts who signed from Fulham for £12 million, may figure on the bench.
In some ways, City’s approach may change depending on the weekend’s results – wins for their rivals will put the pressure on them to start with three points, but I think the Baggies can get something, particularly if one or two of the South Americans are left out. I’m backing Albion to get a point.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
21 Mar 2015 – Premier League
Manchester City 3 (Bony, Fernando, Silva)
West Brom 0
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
26 Dec 2014 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Ideye)
Manchester City 3 (Fenando, Toure (pen), Silva)
22 Sep 2010 – League Cup 3rd Round
West Brom 2 (Zuiverloon, Cox)
Manchester City 1 (Jo)
Albion’s Record against Manchester City
|Premier League Record|