This game is pretty damn huge. Sky must be delighted that a game they picked some time ago has taken on this level of significance – a real test of our still unreal-seeming push for a top two place. The Baggies are two points ahead of us, and also have a game in hand, so if we really want to keep the pressure on then really a win is what Billy and the boys must be looking for. Gulp.
It’s fair to say our recent away trips have been set up rather differently to our home games – a much more ‘functional’ feel to the more attack-minded home performances has often found us not taking the game to opponents quite so much. With West Brom being the highest scorers in the league at home (we are joint second with QPR) and us being the lowest conceders on our travels – I would suspect strongly Billy will err on the side of caution.
After our impressive cup performance against Birmingham we’re able to restore loan man Nicky Shorey – so a more familiar feel to our defensive unit is likely, even though the reshuffled back line performed well against the Blues. As we have become accustomed to, Bennett and Moussi are our only injury concerns – so Billy has a full array of options to choose from.
Our hosts have a doubt over apparent-Forest-target Joe Mattock who is nursing an injury, and are hoping to debut loan signing Tamas subject to a work permit coming through for him. The man to watch for Albion lately has been Graham Dorrans who has recently signed a new deal, the midfielder is their joint top scorer with eight goals. West Brom have a pretty decent home record, although our’s is better but they’ve won seven out of twelve, whereas on our travels we’ve won three out twelve (although, more crucially, lost none!).
I can’t see this game being a draw (quick, bet on a draw now!). Depending on which side can get on top I think they’ll triumph, so hopefully we’ll not only be celebrating keeping our unbeaten away record intact – it will be three points too. However, as we already know from our encounter in August, West Brom are capable of unleashing a suckerpunch even when outplayed – so the defence needs to stay alert, and Earnie needs to stay away from taking penalties!
With the match being televised on Sky all eyes will be on officially the form team of the division – which has given Billy a well deserved nomination (again!) for manager of the month, I think he has to be considered a strong contender and I reckon he might get it. Having only let in one goal and kept five clean sheets in a row, Lee Camp is up for player of the month too – although I think he might get trumped by Darren Pratley who had a great month for Swansea.
A tough prospect – but we need to overcome tough prospects to flourish, and this side have come up against plenty of those intact this season despite by residual negativity. Even so, this is the biggest challenge our unbeaten away record has faced in a while, and years of watching rubbish still leaves me a bit on the pessimistic side. But the Reds are gradually beating that out of me. I’m looking forward to it, which is progress!
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