Baggies look to firm up play-off spot in Cardiff

Cardiff City v West Bromwich Albion; Cardiff City Stadium, Tuesday 28th November 2023, 7.45pm

A buoyant Baggies head to south Wales on Tuesday evening for a further test against another of the teams currently in the play-off picture, Cardiff City. Four wins in five games have propelled Carlos Corberán’s into fifth spot, currently two points ahead of the Bluebirds who sit in 7th, and they are halfway through a run of six games against teams in the top eight.

Their hosts for Tuesday’s match are enjoying a much better start to the season than they endured in the last two campaigns and it is the first time since 2020 that they have made it past 14 games into a new season without a change in manager. Current boss, Erol Bulut, is their seventh boss since the beginning of 2021, and was virtually unknown outside Turkey before he was appointed as a replacement for Sabri Lamouchi in the summer. The biggest club he managed was Fenerbahçe but he was replaced before completing a full season despite leaving the club in third place in the table. HIs experience of European football was highlighted as a key factor in his appointment by Cardiff over, Vincent Tan, which seems strange for a club who finished just above the relegation places last season, but he does at least seem to have got the team playing much better.

Former Baggies Romaine Sawyers and Callum Robinson have been joined by Karlan Grant this season, but with the former Terriers striker on loan from Albion, he will be unable to play in this fixture. He has featured in every league game so far, starting all but one, predominantly as a left winger, and has recorded two goals and two assists, with his second goal coming in the win at Preston on Saturday. Robinson has also been a regular starter of late and has also scored twice from his normal number ten position, but Sawyers has found game time limited and has been on the pitch for only three minutes in the league this season.

City will go into the match buoyed from a late turnaround in their match at Deepdale – they scored twice in added time to recover from a 1-0 deficit to take all three points with Canadian international, Iké Ugbo, coming off the bench to score the winner in the ninth minute of stoppage time. That followed a return of just one point from the previous two games including defeat to Norwich City in their last home game. A run of four successive victories in September launched City into the play-off picture but they have won just three of the eight matches since. Nonetheless, victory would move them above the Baggies.

We may well see a few more changes for this match with Corberán having more options than he has been used to of late, and it being a three game week. I thought Swift may start on Saturday and I would be doubly surprised if he does not start at Cardiff. Maja could also get his first start in an Albion shirt, but I wouldn’t expect to see much change elsewhere in the team with the Spaniard more likely to make early substitutions to protect his key players rather than rest them from the start.

While this is undoubtedly another test given the Bluebirds’ position in the table, it is a match that Albion should not fear. Corberán’s team have been the better side for most of their last nine matches, even in the defeats to Birmingham City and Southampton. The first of those nine, the 4-0 win at Preston, showed what they were capable of, and each game since they have shown elements of that capability in increasing portions of the game. Saturday’s performance against Ipswich was at least as dominant as their victory at Deepdale and, rather than being a surprise, that dominance is close to becoming an expectation.

If the Baggies play as well at Cardiff as they did in their last away game at Southampton, three points should be more than achievable.


Cardiff City have proved tricky opponents for Albion of late, in that they have only beaten them in the last 14 meetings if they have scored four goals! That run, dating back to 2007, has seen the Baggies win just three times, 4-2 in the FA Cup in 2012, 4-2 in October 2019 under Slaven Bilić and, with their only win at the Cardiff City Stadium to date, a 4-0 victory under Valérien Ismaël in September 2021. That period has seen four wins by the Bluebirds, two of which have been at their new home – 2-1 in January 2020 and the 1-0 win in the Premier League in December 2013 that proved to be Steve Clarke’s last game in charge of Albion, a sacking that could be seen as the start of Albion’s decline.

Baggies fans should, perhaps, be glad that this game is not taking place a few days later as Albion’s record in Cardiff in December leaves a lot to be desired. The clubs were paired for Christmas head-to-heads on four occasions where the home and away fixtures would be played a day or two apart over the festive season. City won the home fixture on Boxing Day 1922 by three goals to nil, it was 3-2 on Christmas Day 1925, a similar scoreline on Christmas Day 1954 and 3-1 on Boxing Day 1960. With the 1-0 defeat on 14th December 2013, that makes it five defeats from five visits to Cardiff in December!

Those Boxing Day 3-0 wins are the Bluebirds’ best results against the Baggies while the 4-0 win that Albion recorded two years ago was bettered back in April 1948 when a brace apiece from Jack Haines and Arthur Taylor, and Arthur Rowley’s last goal for the Baggies earned the visitors a 5-0 win at Ninian Park. That it was Rowley’s last goal for Albion is only notable in that he went on to become the all-time record Football League goalscorer with 433, the first four of which were for the Baggies before spells with Fulham, Leicester City and Shrewsbury Town. His last goal was for the Shrews against Bournemouth & Boscombe Athletic in a Division Three fixture in April 1965 just after his 39th birthday.

The 4-0 win for the Baggies in 2021 is their only win at Cardiff since October 1974 when goals from Joe Mayo and Barry Donaghy earned Don Howe’s team a 2-0 win – their next visit to Ninian Park would be almost three decades later in November 2003 when Robert Earnshaw, then still at Cardiff, scored a penalty to cancel out Jason Koumas’s opener and make the final score 1-1.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion D W W W L W
Cardiff City L W W D L W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

15 Mar 2023 – League Championship
Cardiff City 1 (Kaba)
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Dike)

Last win

28 Sep 2021 – League Championship
Cardiff City 0
West Bromwich Albion 4 (Grant, Nelson (o.g.), Mowatt, Phillips)

Albion’s Record against Cardiff City

  Overall   Away
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 54 22 16 16 95 74   27 8 9 10 41 39
FA Cup 5 2 2 1 11 6   2 0 2 0 3 3
League Cup 1 0 0 1 2 4   0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 60 24 18 18 108 84   29 8 11 10 44 42
  Premier League Record
  Pld W D L F A Pts
Home 1 0 1 0 3 3 1
Away 1 0 0 1 0 1 0
Total 2 0 1 1 3 4 1

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