Eddie Howe’s AFC Bournemouth visit the Hawthorns this weekend without a win in seven matches in all competitions, and will be up against an Albion side for whom a win would see them reach the magical 40-point barrier before the end of February.
The Cherries’ recent form has their fans’ looking nervously at the relegation zone – in mid-December, they were comfortably in 10th place, just two points behind the Baggies, but they have picked up just five points from the nine Premier League games since, and have not yet registered a victory in 2017. They remain six points clear of the drop zone, but they need to arrest their current run of form to avoid being dragged into the dogfight at the bottom of the table.
Albion, on the other hand, have lost just once in the last seven games and their defeat at the Vitality Stadium in September was their last defeat to a side below them in the table. Their home record has seen them record six wins in their last seven at the Hawthorns and the Baggies will certainly start as favourites.
Bournemouth, however, have proved tricky opponents for the Baggies of late. Tony Pulis has generally been successful against his former clubs while at the Hawthorns, but he has picked up just one point in his three games against the south coast club while Albion manager, and Albion have not recorded a league win over the Cherries for more than 20 years. Admittedly, that was their last league meeting prior to Bournemouth’s promotion to the Premier League and came in January 1993. Ossie Ardiles’ Albion were on the road to promotion back to the second tier and won 1-0 at Dean Court thanks to a goal from David Speedie – the Argentine’s opposing manager that day was a certain Tony Pulis.
Albion’s last league win at the Hawthorns was by two goals to one the previous August. Bob Taylor’s opener was cancelled out by Dave Regis, Cyrille’s younger brother, before the Baggies won the game thanks to a late penalty by current Leicester City caretaker boss, Craig Shakespeare. The two clubs did meet in one FA Cup tie and three League Cup ties in the 22 year gap between league meetings with each side winning two. The latest of those at the Hawthorns was a 1-0 League Cup win for the Baggies nearly ten years ago – Craig Beattie scored the only goal in a match that saw James Morrison make his full debut for Albion.
Mozza is likely to be in the starting lineup once again this weekend, while Tony Pulis has a decision to make in defence with Jonny Evans fit to make his first start since 2nd January. Baggies’ loan signing, Marc Wilson, is ineligible to play against his parent club.
For the visitors, on loan midfielder, Jack Wilshere, faces a late fitness test on an ankle injury while striker, Callum Wilson, has been ruled out for the season and defender, Simon Francis, is a major doubt with a hamstring injury.
Albion have not lost to a team below them in the table since the 1-0 defeat to Saturday’s opponents at the Vitality Stadium in mid-September, and I fully expect that run to continue. The hosts are firm favourites and I see them picking up all three points as the Cherries’ wait for a first win of the year will continue.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
10 Sep 2016 – Premier League
AFC Bournemouth 1 (Wilson)
West Brom 0
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
19 Dec 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (McAuley)
AFC Bournemouth 2 (Smith, Daniels (pen))
23 Aug 2011 – League Cup 2nd Round
AFC Bournemouth 1 (Lovell)
West Brom 4 (Thomas, Fortuné (2), Cox)
Last win at the Hawthorns
14 Aug 2007 – League Cup 1st Round
West Brom 1 (Beattie)
AFC Bournemouth 0
Albion’s Record against AFC Bournemouth
|Premier League Record|