Ahead of the match at Selhurst Park in October, Tony Pulis backed Alan Pardew to be the next England manager. After dispatching the Baggies in one of Albion’s poorest performances of the season (at least at that point), Pardew’s Eagles have won just four of the next eighteen Premier League matches, culminating in a run of nine league games without a win since Christmas
Not surprisingly, Palace are bottom of the 10-game form table and, on the more widely used 6-game table, only Norwich are below them on goal difference with Albion one place above them albeit with six points to Palace’s one from the last half dozen matches. Both managers are in desperate need of a league win.
However, the return of Yannick Bolasie from injury and progression to the Cup quarter finals thanks to a win at high-flying Tottenham put a smile back on Pardew’s face and they will prove tough opposition for Albion on Saturday evening.
Tony Pulis, on the other hand, has acknowledged the displeasure of the fans although whether that will have any impact on his approach to tactics remains to be seen. His statement, following some tough questions from journalists, that he would be discussing his future with the chairman in the summer is, on reflection, likely to be nothing more than a way to stop the questioning. Such a conversation would be likely to happen every summer, but it may be that Mr Peace will have a different agenda to Mr Pulis.
The announcement this week that the club is seeking to appoint another Technical Director is, perhaps, a first sign that Jeremy Peace is starting to take some power away from the Welshman, and could be seen as a sign that Pulis’s future at the club is less than certain. Peace is no stranger to fans’ criticism and has a record of making his own decisions to his own calendar but, as I have said before, any sign that leaving Pulis in place could affect the club’s finances, such as in a significant drop in season ticket sales, is likely to force a decision.
The result of this weekend’s match is certainly to have an impact on Pulis’s future. With away trips to two of the top three and a home game against a slightly resurgent Man Utd due to follow, the match against Palace is the best opportunity to pick up points before Norwich visit the Hawthorns before the international break at Easter.
Pulis does have a decent record against his former clubs since joining Albion, with the reverse at Selhurst Park in November and the loss at home to Bournemouth in December the only times he has tasted defeat in the eight matches he has faced a former club as Albion boss. In the Premier League, the Baggies are yet to face defeat at home to the Eagles although conceding an injury time equaliser in the basement battle back in 2005 certainly felt like a defeat at the time, but the 2-0 win back in 2013 remains Albion’s only home win in this fixture in the top flight since 1981 when Bryan Robson’s 89th minute strike was enough to give the Baggies the points.
Tony Pulis will be pleased to welcome back Gareth McAuley and Craig Dawson to his backline, although Jonny Evans is ruled out having suffered a hamstring injury at the Mad Stad. McManaman and Morrison remain sidelined.
Yannick Bolassie made his return from injury from the bench at White Hart Lane last weekend, and is likely to start at the Hawthorns. Pardew will be without Soaré through suspension and McArthur through injury. Puncheon is likely to miss out with a hamstring injury while Sako is a doubt.
Pulis will be looking to bounce back from the cup defeat at Reading and he will be pleased to have the bulk of his back four back. Bolassie is a key player for Palace and will use his pace to test the Albion defence, but I think Pulis will have worked especially hard with his defence this week after conceding poor goals last weekend. It won’t be pretty, and the attendance could be another all time low for a Hawthorns Premier League fixture, but I’m going for a narrow win for the Baggies.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
3 Oct 2015 – Premier League
Crystal Palace 2 (Bolassie, Cabaye (pen))
West Brom 0
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
25 Oct 2014 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Anichebe, Berahino (pen))
Crystal Palace 2 (Hangeland, Jedinak (pen))
18 Apr 2015 – Premier League
Crystal Palace 0
West Brom 2 (Morrison, Gardner)
Last win at the Hawthorns
2 Nov 2013 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Berahino, McAuley)
Crystal Palace 0
Albion’s Record against Crystal Palace
|Premier League Record|