After the impressive victory at the home of the champions last time out, it could be said that the international break came at the wrong time for Albion but, the two Scotland players aside, it’s not been a bad week for the international Baggies.
Northern Ireland’s impressive 4-0 thumping of Azerbaijan saw two Baggies on the scoresheet in Gareth McAuley and Chris Brunt, with Jonny Evans also in the side, while James McClean scored the only goal in the Republic’s surprise 1-0 win in Austria. Meanwhile, good work from Hal Robson-Kanu led to Gareth Bale’s opener against Serbia for Wales, although they allowed the visitors a late equaliser in what was ultimately a disappointing result. The Ulstermen did taste defeat in a friendly at home to Croatia on Tuesday and, of course, Darren Fletcher and James Morrison were both in the Scotland line-up that went down 3-0 at Wembley on Friday evening.
Those on international duty have an extra couple of days to recover as this weekend’s fixture does not take place until Monday evening when Sean Dyche’s Burnley visit the Hawthorns. The extra couple of days also give key injured duo, Salomón Rondón and Nacer Chadli a little longer to recover from their injuries. The Venezuelan, who missed his country’s two World Cup qualifiers with a hamstring strain, should be fit to play but Chadli is unlikely to make the starting line up having only just started training outside following his knee operation.
Burnley will be looking for their first win in West Bromwich since 1969 with the Baggies having come out on top in eight of the ten fixtures at the Hawthorns since then. Last time the Clarets visited, Saido Berahino was on form with a brace in a 4-0 thumping (also televised) – the former England U21 striker could be fit enough to play a part this time round having been sent to France to work on his fitness over the past few weeks.
Two years before Burnley’s last win at Albion, three Baggies players grabbed a brace as they recorded their biggest ever win over the Clarets. Jeff Astle, Bobby Hope and Clive Clark all scored twice, with Eddie Colquhoun and, of course, Bomber Brown, also scoring in an 8-1 victory. 46 years later, Burnley were the first visitors to the Hawthorns for a league game following Albion’s first relegation from the Premier League in 2003. Having lost the first away game at a Paul Merson-inspired Walsall, there was another brace scored by Lee Hughes as Albion got their ultimately successful promotion bid going with a 4-1 win with Rob Hulse and Artim “he scores from corner kicks” Šakiri the other scorers.
Like Albion, Burnley were founder members of the Football League and Monday’s match will be the 125th league meeting between the clubs. The first was at Stoney Lane in September 1888, which Albion won 4-3. It was to set the trend for high scoring games in those early years as no less that 57 goals were scored in the first 11 meetings between the sides, with Albion normally on top with wins of 5-1, 6-1 and 7-1 during that period, although Burnley also managed a 5-0 and a 5-4. While they haven’t managed to keep up the 5-goals-a-game average over the years, they still average over 3 per game between them, so expect goals!
Burnley are looking a better outfit than they were two years ago, and they have had some impressive results at Turf Moor with wins over both Merseyside clubs, but the 0-0 draw at Old Trafford in their last away trip was their first point on the road this season and I expect that trend to continue with Albion picking up back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since January.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
8 Feb 2015 – Premier League
Burnley 2 (Barnes, Ings)
West Brom 2 (Brunt, Ideye)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
28 Sep 2014 – Premier League
West Brom 4 (Dawson, Berahino (2), Dorrans)
Albion’s Record against Burnley
|Premier League Record|