Cup action returns to the Hawthorns on Tuesday evening as Albion are once again drawn at home in the Carabao Cup, although this time against Premier League opposition in the form of Crystal Palace.
Roy Hodgson is sure to get a warm welcome at the Hawthorns as one of the most popular of Albion’s recent managers, but both he and Darren Moore will be keen to progress to the last sixteen of the competition.
Albion are now on a run of six consecutive home victories, two of which were in the Carabao Cup, and it will be interesting to see whether Moore continues his policy of giving his fringe squad players a run in this competition. Against League One and Two sides, that is perhaps a sensible option, but against Premier League opposition, he may opt to play a strong line up if he is serious about progressing in the competition. After all, rounds one and two were only won by a margin of a single goal, so it’s not as if the fringe squad have impressed massively.
Having said that, Roy Hodgson made nine changes to his starting line up when Palace travelled to Swansea for their match in round two. Only Kelly and Schlupp kept their places from the side that had lost to Watford the previous weekend, although Wan-Bissaka would have started the game at Vicarage Road had he not been suspended. I would expect the former England manager to make changes once again although, given that the Eagles don’t play again until next Monday evening, he may opt to keep a few more of his first teamers in the starting eleven.
Obviously, the league is the priority this season but with Albion on a good run of results with only one defeat in their last ten matches in all competitions, momentum is important and I would like to see Big Dave pick a team that has a real chance of beating Palace, rather than rotating for the sake of it.
One player I would like to see play, however, is Sam Field in the middle of the park. Whether as a partner Livermore or Barry, I believe he deserves a chance in that midfield two to see whether he can be more effective than Chris Brunt.
The Albion club captain played well in the game against Stoke City but has struggled in most other games while his central midfield partner, Jake Livermore, has improved significantly in recent weeks and has played very well in the last two games. Moore does have other options and played Livermore alongside Gareth Barry against Bristol City last week, a partnership that seemed to work well. Rekeem Harper is the other obvious option having impressed in the Caraboa Cup this campaign, although he has only made one league appearance for the first team, as a substitute in last season’s opener against Bournemouth.
The Baggies back line looked much more solid on Saturday, and there may be an argument to keep the back three together to build up the fledgling understanding that we are beginning to see. However, Tosin Adarabioyo hasn’t seen any football since the last league cup tie, bar a two minute substitute appearance against Millwall, and Moore will want to give him some time on the pitch being one of the few back up centre backs in the squad.
Moore’s most recent signing, 36-year-old Wes Hoolahan, may well get a start in the number ten role following two substitute appearances in the league, and there is an outside chance that former Eagles and Wolves forward, Bakary Sako, could sign for Albion in time to face the club he rejected at the end of last season.
I would expect to see changes amongst the front three, but I’d hope to see the “big guns” on the bench in case we need a goal late on.
Personally, I’d like to see Moore play a reasonably strong side to keep the momentum of a winning run going. Albion haven’t managed seven successive home victories since their last Championship campaign in March and April 2010 but they are some way short of the club record of eleven in 1948/9.
There has been just one previous League Cup tie between Albion and Palace, back in 1981 in the fourth round. That took place at Selhurst Park in mid December and Derek Monaghan gave Albion the lead in the 27th minute and Cyrille Regis added a second for the Baggies before the break. Tommy Langley pulled one back for Steve Kember’s Palace, then of Division Two, before Regis made sure of Albion’s progress with his second and his team’s third with ten minutes left. That season was, of course, when Ronnie Allen’s men reached the semi-final stage of both domestic cup competitions. In the League Cup, they beat Aston Villa 1-0 in the quarter-final at Villa Park thanks to a goal from Derek Statham, before going out 1-0 on aggregate in the semi-final with Tottenham Hotspur.
The only other meeting between the sides in a major cup competition was in the third round of the FA Cup in 2014 when Palace were 2-0 winners at the Hawthorns. The first goal was scored by none other than current Baggie, Dwight Gayle, with Marouane Chamakh adding a second in stoppage time.
One other cup tie was also at the Hawthorns in the much-maligned Full Members’ Cup in October 1985. Goals from Steve Hunt and Jimmy Nicholl were enough to give Albion a 2-1 victory. It was a rare success for that Baggies team that was relegated at the end of the season and, having come just a few days after their first league win of the season over Birmingham City, it was the only time that they managed successive victories all season.
As an aside, Albion’s last win over Palace at the Hawthorns was in February 2016, with a certain Saido Berahino scoring the winner that proved to be his final goal in a Baggies shirt, and his next league goal was just last Saturday in Stoke’s defeat to Blackburn.
It will be a tough game for Albion irrespective of the team that Hodgson picks, but I fancy Albion to nick it, perhaps on penalties.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
13 May 2018 – Premier League
Crystal Palace 2 (Zaha, van Aanholt)
West Brom 0
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
2 Dec 2017 – Premier League
West Brom 0
Crystal Palace 0
13 Aug 2016 – Premier League
Crystal Palace 0
West Brom 1 (Rondón)
Last win at the Hawthorns
27 Feb 2016 – Premier League
West Brom 3 (Gardner, Dawson, Berahino)
Crystal Palace 2 (Wickham (2))
Albion’s Record against Crystal Palace