The pressure is on Valérien Ismaël for his team to claim all three points at Peterborough United on Saturday night after he omitted all last weekend’s starting eleven from the squad to face Arsenal in the Carabao Cup on Wednesday. For some, there is no excuse for fielding such a weak side but others will feel that a victory this weekend will at least partially vindicate the decision.
Big Val will be without top scorer, Callum Robinson, this weekend after he tested positive for COVID earlier in the week, but he will have new signing, Jordan Hugill, available after he joined on loan from Norwich City. While Hugill’s signing is unlikely to excite fans, he could prove to be an astute addition. He has essentially been brought in to do the job that Ismaël hoped Kenneth Zohore would be able to do – add a physical presence to the front line when needed and be able to hold the ball up to bring others in around him. His goalscoring record is not exactly impressive, but he did score 15 when on loan at QPR in the Championship in 2019/20 and 13 for Preston in 2016/17. He played with Robinson for three seasons at Deepdale, so the two will know one another’s games well.
Matt Clarke is another absentee having picked up a hamstring injury at Blackburn. His loss is particularly disappointing as he has been hugely impressive this season and, as a left footer, he adds balance to the back three. However, Ajayi is a decent backup and, indeed, can feel hard done by to have spent most of the season on the bench.
A win would be Albion’s fourth in a row in the league and, with the other two teams with ten points, Fulham and Stoke City, playing each other earlier in the day, they will know exactly what they need to do to regain top spot in the early league table.
It’s been a tough start to the season for the hosts. Darren Ferguson is in his third spell as manager at London Road – son of legendary manager, Sir Alex, he started his managerial career at Peterborough in 2007 and led them to back-to-back promotions from League Two to the Championship before being sacked in November 2009 as Posh failed to adapt to second tier football. He returned in January 2011 and managed to guide them to promotion once again, beating Huddersfield Town in the play-off final, and then kept them in the Championship the following season – that was only the second time that Posh had spent successive seasons in the second tier. They were relegated in 2013 and Ferguson left for the second time in February 2015. He was re-appointed in January 2019 and, once again, guided Posh back to the Championship as they finished runners up to Hull City last season.
They started this campaign with a 3-0 defeat at Luton Town before being dumped out of the Carabao Cup with a 4-0 home defeat to Plymouth Argyle. Their only victory of the season came thanks to two stoppage time goals against Derby County a fortnight ago, and a point against Cardiff City means that Posh are currently unbeaten at home in the league.
Jonson Clarke-Harris is Peterborough’s chief threat having scored 31 goals in 45 league games last season making him the top scorer in League One. He is yet to find the net this campaign, although he has two assists to his name, and he may be distracted by off field issues after he was charged by the FA about historic social media posts earlier this month. His strike partner, Siriki Dembélé, has scored two of his team’s four goals this season with midfielder, Harrison Burrows, netting the other two.
I’m sure Big Val will not be complacent this weekend, but Albion should have too much for the newly promoted team and I’m expecting another three points for Albion.
This season is only the fourth in which Albion and Peterborough have found themselves in the same division and, of the six previous league meetings, the Baggies have won four. Overall, Albion have won eleven of the nineteen meetings between the sides.
Posh’s only league victory in the fixture came at London Road in January 1994 when both clubs were battling against relegation back to the third tier. A Gary Strodder own goal and a late strike from Ken Charlery gave the hosts the points that day, but it was Keith Burkinshaw’s Baggies that stayed up come the end of the season thanks to a memorable last day victory at Portsmouth. Peterborough finished bottom after picking up just two points in their last 11 games.
In the League Cup, the two clubs have been drawn together on four occasions and it was in that competition that they first met, at the semi final stage in December 1965. With a 2-1 lead from the first leg at the Hawthorns, the Baggies completed the job with a 4-2 victory in Cambridgeshire thanks to a hat trick by Bomber Brown and another goal from Ray Crawford. Albion would, of course, go on to beat West Ham in the two legged final in March 1966.
It was Posh who came out on top in the next three meetings, 2-1 in the League Cup in 1968 and 2-1 in the Texaco Cup in August 1974, both at London Road, and then 3-0 in the first leg of a League Cup tie at the Hawthorns in August 1988 in front of just over 4,000 fans, including yours truly!
Albion’s biggest win at Peterborough came the Fourth Round of the FA Cup in 2008 in the memorable run to the semi final. First half goals from Roman Bednár and Robert Koren put the visitors in control and Kevin Phillips added a penalty after the break, an incident which saw Posh’s Craig Morgan sent off, to make the final score 3-0.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
10 Feb 2016 – FA Cup 4th Round Replay
Peterborough United 1 (Taylor)
West Brom 1 (Fletcher)
West Brom won 4-3 on penalties
26 Dec 2009 – League Championship
West Brom 2 (Moore, Bennett (o.g.))
Peterborough United 0
Last win at Peterborough United
18 Aug 2009 – League Championship
Peterborough United 2 (Mackail-Smith, McLean)
West Brom 3 (Moore (2), Brunt)
Albion’s Record against Peterborough United
If you cannot see the tables, click here.