It’s not very often that you get to see the Baggies live on the BBC these days, certainly not on at prime time on a Wednesday evening and, after this week’s game, I think most TV executives will be looking to avoid having to show them again should they progress further in the FA Cup.
Albion toiled and struggled to get past Peterborough United of League One, and I felt sorry for those who turned on to watch the Ten O’Clock News and had to endure watching Tony Pulis’s side fail to score against a tiring Posh. Or do I? At least they could support the other side and feel good about it and, let’s face it, they are likely not to have to watch it again.
An increasing number of Albion fans are feeling the same. I’ve lost count of the number of people who I’ve heard comment that they “won’t come again until he goes” or “won’t renew if he’s still here next season” – whether they will follow through on those threats is another thing, of course. We football fans are a strange breed, loyal to the point of obsession and always likely to turn up no matter what is played out in front of us. Having bought my first season ticket in 1986 and stuck with the Baggies through the dark days of Woking, Twerton Park and Bobby Gould, I speak from experience but even I’m considering what to do next season. Deep down, of course, I know I’ll still be there, but there are many that won’t be.
Of course, we shouldn’t forget that Albion did get through, although perhaps undeservedly, and have reached the fifth round in successive seasons for the first time since 2008. But they remain without a league win since 2nd January and face a tough trip to Goodison Park this weekend.
Everton have won many plaudits this season for their style of play, but a tendency to concede goals, particularly late in games, has meant that their results have not been as good as their football deserved. Some would say the same about West Brom albeit with a different meaning. However, having lost Tim Howard and John Stones to injury, Roberto Martinez seems to have stumbled on a solution at the back as the Toffees have kept three consecutive clean sheets winning each game 3-0.
Given Albion’s recent record, keeping a clean sheet is not likely to be much of a challenge for Everton this weekend, and the quality of their attacking football is likely to cause the Baggies back line problems, particularly with the current injury problems.
Gareth McAuley is definitely out having limped out of Wednesday’s game with a hamstring problem, while Craig Dawson, Jonny Evans and Chris Brunt are all struggling for fitness. For only the second time under Tony Pulis, Cristian Gamboa and Sébastien Pocognoli started a game together at London Road, and the Welshman may have to do the same again if none of those three recover in time.
Saturday will be the 163rd meeting between Albion and Everton with the first meeting being in the first season of the Football League. The Baggies won that game 4-1 at Anfield, where Everton played for eight years before Liverpool FC was formed when they moved to Goodison Park in 1892.
Albion repeated that 4-1 scoreline some 122 years later in their latest win at Goodison Park in 2010, but their biggest win at Everton came in their League Championship winning season Jack Crisp and Alfred Smith both scored twice, and Claude Jephcott also netted in a 5-2 win in September 1919.
Everton’s biggest win came way back in December 1893 when Jack Southworth scored six goals in a 7-1 win, and they went on to score six goals at home to Albion on two more occasions before the 19th century was done.
The 4-1 win five years ago is Albion’s only win at Goodison since 1980. Remi Moses and Ally Robertson scored in a 2-1 win that year, while England’s first half-million pound footballer, David Mills, and Bryan Robson were on the scoresheet in the league game the previous year as Albion won 2-0.
In addition to the potential absence of Pulis’s favoured back four, James Morrison and Callum McManaman remain sidelined.
Stones and Howard face late fitness tests while Muhamed Besić will miss out with a hamstring injury.
I can’t see beyond a home win in this fixture. Albion have big injury problems, poor form and Everton are flying – the home game against Palace in a fortnight is looking ever more important.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
28 Sep 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Berahino, Dawson)
Everton 3 (Lukaku (2), Koné)
Last meeting at Everton
19 Jan 2015 – Premier League
West Brom 0
1 Sep 2012 – Premier League
West Brom 2 (Long, McAuley)
Last win at Everton
27 Nov 2010 – Premier League
West Brom 4 (Scharner, Brunt, Tchoyi, Distin (o.g.))
Albion’s Record against Everton
|Premier League Record|