Baggies look to extend unbeaten run as Watford visit the Hawthorns

West Bromwich Albion v Watford; The Hawthorns, Monday 1st April, 3pm

Albion are back at the Hawthorns for only the third time in eight games with just two of their seven match unbeaten run having been played at home. The Baggies’ improved form on the road has been crucial in strengthening their top six position, but only Leeds United, Leicester City and Ipswich Town have a better points-per-game tally on their own patch and Carlos Corberán’s team must feel confident knowing that four of their last seven games are at the Hawthorns.

Monday’s visitors, Watford, have endured a mixed campaign and, despite giving ex-Baggies boss, Valérien Ismaël, an extended contract earlier in the season, a run of one win in twelve matches in all competitions prompted the traditionally trigger-happy owners to pull it once again as the Frenchman was sacked after a home defeat to Coventry City in early March. Former Manchester United and England player, Tom Cleverley, who finished his playing career at Vicarage Road, has been put in interim charge of the first team in his first senior coaching role having been working with the under-18s since retiring from playing last summer.

The change has brought an immediate improvement in results as Watford won his first game in charge at struggling Birmingham City and then held Leeds United to a 2-2 draw on Good Friday. However, Blues were reportedly by far the better side in the match at St Andrew’s although the Hornets were much improved against high-flying Leeds and were ahead until Mateo Joseph prodded home a scrappy equaliser for the visitors with five minutes left.

There is little doubt that Watford have been underperforming this season given the quality in their squad. Ismaël Koné, Yáser Asprilla and Matheus Martins all have good pedigree but are still young, but Emmanuel Dennis, who returned to Vicarage Road on loan from Nottingham Forest in January, has plenty of top flight experience and found his scoring touch under Cleverley scoring in both of their last two games. There is also a wealth of experience in former Albion skipper, Jake Livermore, but despite being a regular under Ismaël, he is yet to see any minutes under Cleverley remaining an unused substitutes in his two games in charge.

For the trip to the Hawthorns, Cleverley will be able to welcome back skipper, Wesley Hoedt, who has missed both of his games through suspension having picked up his tenth yellow card in the defeat to Coventry but Ken Sema and Jeremy Ngakia are likely to remain sidelined with injury.

For Carlos Corberán, Matt Phillips made his long-awaited return from injury at Millwall with a late cameo appearance while Josh Maja is still a week away from being included in a matchday squad. The Spaniard’s chief concern will be over the fitness of Cédric Kipré who was withdrawn at the New Den with a shoulder injury and we are yet to hear whether that will rule him out of Monday’s game. Semi Ajayi is his likely replacement should he miss out.

As usual, the forward line remains the area where it is difficult to second-guess Corberán’s selection. At Millwall, Andi Weimann was chosen as the number nine with Jed Wallace moving out to the wide right position in place of Tom Fellows, but the introduction of John Swift and Brandon Thomas-Asante in the second half improved Albion’s threat levels and I do wonder whether we will at least see BTA restored to the starting line up. He hasn’t started a game since the defeat to Southampton in mid-February when he was withdrawn at half-time with the hamstring injury that saw him miss the next four games, while he hasn’t found the net since he scored twice against Blackburn Rovers in mid-January.

Mikey Johnston is now on his longest streak without a goal in an Albion shirt having not scored for the equivalent of two full games since his second goal at Huddersfield. I am being tongue-in-cheek, of course, and he seems to be one of the players assured of a starting spot at the moment and Corberán has also started both Jed Wallace and Grady Diangana in each of the last six games, with either Weimann or Fellows making up the front four. John Swift hasn’t started a game since the 3-0 win at Plymouth Argyle.

It’s difficult to argue too much with Corberán’s selections given the results, but the first halves at Huddersfield and Millwall left much to be desired, and even against Bristol City at the Hawthorns, the first period wasn’t great although, on that occasion, the starting eleven did ultimately win the match.

As seems to be the case every week at the moment, Albion are facing a side whose form is improving and I’m not expecting a straightforward home win. However, the Baggies form at the Hawthorns coupled with the confidence gained from a seven-match unbeaten run should be enough to secure the victory and make it four points from the Easter programme that most would have been happy with.


Albion’s recent record against Watford is less than impressive having won only one of the last ten encounters since Roberto di Matteo’s side thumped Malky Mackay’s Hornets 5-0 on the way to promotion in 2010. There were five different scorers that day with Jonas Olsson, Graham Dorrans, Luke Moore, Gianni Zuiverloon and Simon Cox all finding the net.

That is the biggest of the Baggies’ eighteen wins against Watford and, despite the recent poor run of results, they lead the head-to-head statistics comfortably with Watford having beaten Albion fourteen times and only four times at the Hawthorns.

Albion’s only win over Watford since that 5-0 result came in a Premier League encounter in December 2016 when Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt and Matt Phillips were on the scoresheet in a 3-1 victory – top marks if you can guess the Watford boss, I’ll tell you at the end of the piece.

The most recent of the Hornets’ four wins at the Hawthorns was in April 2016 when former Albion loanee, Ben Watson, returned to the Hawthorns to score the only goal of the game. Watford’s biggest win at the Shrine was on their first ever league visit in April 1983. Graham Taylor’s side had won the first ever league meeting between the sides 3-0 at Vicarage Road earlier in the season and they completed the double over Ron Wylie’s side thanks to goals from John Barnes, Nigel Callaghan and Jan Lohman. Martin Jol scored a late consolation for the hosts to make the final score 3-1.

Another memorable Hawthorns encounter between the sides came in March 1996. Not only did it produced the only hat trick of Bob Taylor’s Albion career, but a remarkable game saw Albion twice surrender a two goal lead having been both 2-0 up and 4-2 up only for the game to finish 4-4. Richard Sneekes scored Albion’s other goal while Craig Ramage and Colin Foster both scored twice for the visitors.

For those guessing, Watford’s manager in December 2016 was Walter Mazzarri, although it was Quique Flores seven months earlier when Albion won 3-1!

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion D W D W W D
Watford L L D L W D

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

20 Sep 2023 – League Championship
Watford 2 (Ince, Martins)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Swift, Wallace)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

8 Aug 2022 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Grant)
Watford 1 (Sarr)

Last win

3 Dec 2016 – Premier League
West Bromwich Albion 3 (Evans, Brunt, Phillips)
Watford 1 (Kabasele)

Albion’s Record against Watford

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 41 17 12 12 67 51   20 10 6 4 42 22
FA Cup 1 0 0 1 0 1   0 0 0 0 0 0
League Cup 2 1 0 1 2 4   1 1 0 0 1 0
Total 44 18 12 14 69 56   21 11 6 4 43 22

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