When Stoke City appear on next on the fixture list, there is always a collective groan from Albion fans. It is probably the last fixture that Baggies fans would want after back-to-back defeats at the hands if the Villa.
The City fans’ chant of “We always beat West Brom” is so close to the truth as to be painful to Baggies fans. But have the tables been turned now that Tony Pulis, so often the architect of Baggies defeats when at the helm at the Britannia, is commanding the opposing ship these days?
The facts of the Stoke jinx, however, pre-date Tony Pulis’s time at the club by some time. Since the Baggies beat Stoke 6-0 (braces from John Paskin, Gary Robson and Don Goodman) just before Christmas in 1988, the two clubs have met on 35 occasions with Albion emerging victorious just three times.
In 1998, a brace from Richard Sneekes and another from Kevin Kilbane gave Albion 3-1 win in the FA Cup Third Round at the Hawthorns (ironically, Albion are unbeaten against Stoke in the FA Cup).
Albion notched a 1-0 win in the clubs’ next meeting, in Division 1 in September 2003, thanks to a Scott Dobie goal in a game which saw Albion’s Andy Johnson and Stoke’s John Eustace sent off in the 5th minute, and City’s Marcus Hall followed them for an early bath in second half.
Albion’s only Premier League win against Stoke, and their only win to date at the Britannia Stadium, came in January 2012 when James Morrison’s goal was cancelled out by a strike by Cameron Jerome with just 4 minutes to go only for Dorrans to grab the winner in stoppage time. In five meetings at the Hawthorns in the Premier League, Stoke have won every one and Albion have scored just one goal (Stéphane Sessègnon in May 2014 in a 2-1 defeat).
And that’s it for Albion in the last 26 years. Played 35, won 3, drawn 10, lost 22.
Prior to this run, however, the record was fairly even. Like Albion, Stoke were a founder member of the Football League and, indeed, the first ever league fixture for both clubs was at the Victoria Ground on 8th September 1888 which Albion won 2-0. The clubs had met in the FA Cup in January of that year (a 4-1 win for the Baggies on their way to their first cup win) and it was not until the seventh meeting in April 1892 that Albion tasted defeat against the Potters.
Stoke are responsible for inflicting Albion’s heaviest ever defeat which was at the Victoria Ground in February 1937 – Freddie Steele scored five times as the hosts ran out winners by ten goals to three.
Albion’s three strikers, Berahino, Ideye and Anichebe, are all still injury doubts besuited the first two having started bi games against Villa. Adil Nabi remains the main alternative from the development squad.
Publish will need to decide whether to stick with Olsson at left back, rather than Brunt who had been playing in there before the cup match – Pocognoli still seems to be the forgotten man as far as the Baggies head coach is concerned.
Brunt remains available having requested a personal hearing for his charge of using foul and abusive language after the quarter final defeat, but Yacob misses out following his controversial dismissal in the same game. McManaman seems likely to miss out once again through injury.
The visitors have Ryan Shawcross available after injury but Stephen Ireland is unlikely to be fit enough to feature.
A Stoke win would seem the obvious prediction given the usual way of things in this fixture, but will things be different this time?
Such a result is backed up by recent form with the Potters on a run of three straight wins compared to Albion’s back-to-back defeats, although Albion have won five of the six games at the Hawthorns in 2015 without conceding a goal.
I’d like to think that any “Manager of the Month” hangover for Pulis has already been used up with the two Villa defeats, and Albion are also due a little bit of luck with decisions given the incidents with Hutton and Yacob in those two games.
Providing at least one of Berahino and Ideye is fit to play, I can see the Baggies bouncing back from their Villa nightmare and getting their first home win over Stoke in the Premier League.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
28 Dec 2014 – Premier League
Stoke City 2 (Diouf (2))
West Brom 0
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
11 May 2014 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Sessegnon)
Stoke City 2
21 Jan 2012 – Premier League
Stoke City 1 (Jerome)
West Brom 2 (Morrison, Dorrans)
Last win at the Hawthorns
27 Sep 2003 – League Division 1
West Brom 1 (Dobie)
Stoke City 0
Albion’s Record against Stoke City
|Premier League Record|