Albion begin 2017 with a home fixture against 19th-placed Hull City, with the Tigers on a run of eight Premier League matches without a win stretching back to before the clubs last met at the KC Stadium in November. The Baggies, on the other hand, have picked up 13 points from their last eight games, with their only defeats in that period coming against Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United.
Hull have not proved easy opponents for Albion in the Premier League, however, with the Baggies coming out on top just once, thanks to Berahino’s goal two years ago. Overall, however, Albion have the edge – Monday will be the 50th league meeting between the two clubs and the Baggies have won 17 to the Tigers’ 16.
Albion’s solitary Premier League victory over the Tigers was Tony Pulis’s first Premier League game in charge of the Baggies in January 2015, having taken the reins for the first time in the 7-0 thrashing of Gateshead in the FA Cup a week earlier. Monday’s game will complete the Welshman’s second full year at the Hawthorns and so far, Albion have amassed 95 points from 75 Premier League matches under Tony Pulis, an average of 1.27 points per game. That makes him Albion’s second most successful permanent manager in the Premier League behind Roy Hodgson who had an average of 1.34 points per game.
At Southampton on New Year’s Eve, Albion came away with all three points thanks to a battling performance and a stunning strike from Hal Robson-Kanu. It was the Welshman’s first league start for the Baggies and his first goal for the club, and his all round performance will certainly give his manager food for thought when it comes to team selections in the coming weeks. He may not have the physical attributes of Rondón, but he is quicker and works every bit as hard and he took his only real chance of the game.
It was not a vintage performance from Albion, as they gave the ball away far too often and did not take advantage of a number of promising situations, but they were defensively solid and restricted the Saints to very few opportunities. Pulis will not be happy with Allan Nyom’s defending for Shane Long’s opening goal, and the former Watford man was perhaps fortunate to make it to half time having escaped a second yellow card a few minutes before the interval. He didn’t reappear for the second half as McClean replaced him with Brunt dropping back to left back.
The fact that Foster attempted more passes than any other Albion player is indicative of how poor they were in possession, and skipper, Darren Fletcher, had an off-day and seemed to have reverted to his early-season form getting caught in possession far too much. Matt Phillips, however, was excellent as he scored a great equaliser and set HRK up for the winner. Evans marshalled the defence expertly as always and McClean did very well when he came on for the second period, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see McClean start against Hull.
With just 48 hours between fixtures, I’m expecting a few changes with Nacer Chadli also in danger of being dropped after another below par performance. He is still to recover his form since his injury and Morrison may well start against the Tigers. Rondón may also return despite Robson-Kanu’s performance.
This is a match that Albion should win. Hull City haven’t won a Premier League match since early November and their only win away from the KC Stadium came at Swansea back in August. They picked up a point at Burnley in their next away game and have failed to pick up a single point on the road since, seven successive away defeats in which they have conceded 20 goals.
Anything less than a win would be a poor result, and I think Albion will win relatively comfortably.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
26 Nov 2016 – Premier League
Hull City 1 (M Dawson)
West Brom 1 (McAuley)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
10 Jan 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 1 (Berahino)
Hull City 0
Albion’s Record against Hull City
|Premier League Record|