Baggies kick off defining month with Sky Blues test

West Bromwich Albion v Coventry City; The Hawthorns, Friday 3rd February 2023, 8pm

Albion play the first of five matches in February that could well define their season. If, by the end of the month, they are in the play-off positions, it should bode well for the rest of the season. However, if results don’t go their way, they could easily be well adrift of the top six.

First up are Mark Robins’ Coventry City who brought an end to Albion’s five match winning run in December with a last minute Gyökeres penalty. At the time, most Baggies fans felt that City were one of the best teams that they had seen so far during the campaign, but the Sky Blues have endured a sticky spell since that game and registered their first victory in that period last weekend with a 2-0 home win over Huddersfield Town. Five of the seven games they have played since the last meeting have been at the CBS Arena resulting in two draws and two defeats, once of which was the dramatic FA Cup exit at the hands of non-league Wrexham. They lost both of their away games in that period although they were to the division’s top two clubs. The poor run of form has seen City drop to 13th in the table although a victory on Friday evening would put them level on points with Albion.

The transfer window has seen City bring in just two players permanently, a 17-year-old centre back, Riccardo di Trolio, from St Albans City who has returned to the Hertfordshire club on loan for the remainder of the season, and 28-year-old striker Sean Maguire from Preston North End. Hardly prolific, the Irish international has only managed double figures in a season once in English football. Numbers were sldo boosted by the loan signings of defenders Brooke Norton-Cuffy from Arsenal, Josh Wilson-Esbrand from Manchester City and Luke McNally from Burnley.

Mark Robins was most pleased by the fact that star striker Viktor Gyökeres has remained at the club despite plenty of rumours to the contrary. The Swede has become even more important to his team following the loss of midfielder Callum O’Hare to a season-ending ACL injury a few weeks ago. There is a chance that Tyler Walker and Kyle McFadzean could return from injury for Friday evening, but as well as O’Hare, Fabio Tavares, Josh Eccles, Matt Godden and Fankaty Dabo are all ruled out.

Carlos Corberán will be running the rule over his two new signings, Nathaniel Chalobah and Marc Albrighton, ahead of Friday’s game and I would expect both to be involved at least on the bench. I’d be a little surprised to see either start unless there were any fresh injury concerns, but either could have made a big impact in training.

John Swift should be available having recovered from a slight ankle injury that kept him out of the Bristol City game, while Kyle Bartley played an hour in the PL2 4-0 defeat to Aston Villa last Friday so could be under consideration.

Corberán spoke this week about the need for Daryl Dike to get more game time to get him fully up to speed. He has started the last four games since Thomas-Asante was suspended and the Spaniard feels that Dike can play one game every week but will currently struggle with two. He is not pulling up any trees at the moment, but that could be down to a combination of fitness after having had 12 months on the sidelines, and confidence both in his form and his body. I’d like to see BTA start on Friday as I feel he offers much more mobility and energy than Dike at the moment, albeit I agree that the American does need to keep getting game time.

Having suffered back-to-back defeats for the first time under Corberán, this is a game that Albion really need to win if they are to maintain their top six challenge. It is, on paper at least, one of the easier fixtures in February with games against Blackburn Rovers, Watford and Middlesbrough to come later in the month, three sides that currently occupy play-off places. Victory over the Sky Blues would see Albion move up into fifth place, above both Watford and Rovers, for a few hours at least.

Whether there was an element of complacency at Ashton Gate last weekend, with City having been comprehensively beaten a month earlier, I’m not sure, but Corberán will have impressed on the players this week that the performance was unacceptable. I feel confident that we will see a reaction on Friday night, which should lead to a return to winning ways.


Last season was the first campaign in which Albion and the Sky Blues shared a division since 2009/10, and it was then that the Baggies recorded their last home victory over City.  Steven Reid’s first half goal was enough for Roberto di Matteo’s team to take all three points keeping them firmly on track for automatic promotion – that result kept them in second spot, two points behind leaders Newcastle United and some eight points clear of third place Nottingham Forest with just seven games of the season remaining.

As can be seen from the stats below, Albion have had the better of things against their most distant West Midlands neighbours over the years winning almost half of the 66 previous meetings while losing just 17.  City have only triumphed at the Hawthorns on six occasions, four of which have come in the league.

The last of those was a goal-laden encounter in December 2007.  Iain Dowie’s Coventry took an early 2-0 lead with goals from Leon Best and Michael Mifsud but a second half brace from Roman Bednár had brought Tony Mowbray’s side level before Paul Robinson received his marching orders with just under 20 minutes left.  Unfortunately for the hosts, Best and Mifsud each completed a double of their own in the last seven minutes to make the final score 4-2 to the visitors.

That is the only time that the Sky Blues have won by more than one goal at the Hawthorns with their other five wins being either 1-0 or 2-1.

Albion’s biggest win over Coventry came when Ron Atkinson’s Baggies were approaching their zenith in October 1978.  Len Cantello got things started with a 16th minute opener before Laurie Cunningham and Cyrille Regis both scored before the break.  Derek Statham got in on the act before the hour mark to make it 4-0 with Cunningham adding his second and Albion’s fifth a few minutes later.  The visitors had the audacity to score a goal through Mick Ferguson on 70 minutes but the Baggies responded with two more of their own through Tony Brown and a second for Regis to make the final score 7-1.  That remains the Baggies’ biggest top-flight win since Alan Ashman’s team whopped Burnley 8-1 in 1967.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion W D W W L L
Coventry City D D L L L W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

21 Dec 2022 – League Championship
Coventry City 1 (Gyökeres (pen))
West Bromwich Albion 0

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

23 Apr 2022 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 0
Coventry City 0

Last win

4 Dec 2021 – League Championship
Coventry City 1 (McFadzean)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Grant, McFadzean (o.g.))

Last win at the Hawthorns

24 Mar 2010 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Reid)
Coventry City 0

Albion’s Record against Coventry City

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 53 25 13 15 86 55   26 14 8 4 53 22
FA Cup 8 4 2 2 19 9   4 2 0 2 8 4
League Cup 5 3 2 0 13 6   3 3 0 0 12 5
Total 66 32 17 17 118 70   33 19 8 6 73 31

If you cannot see the tables, click here.

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