Baggies look to return to winning ways at Stoke

Stoke City v West Bromwich Albion; bet365 Stadium, Saturday 6th April 2023, 3pm

Albion’s Easter weekend was a touch frustrating given that they picked up just two points rather than the three or four that they would have been expecting, but while the performances were below par, they showed incredible stoicism to come back in both games thereby extending their unbeaten record to eight games. Furthermore, results elsewhere meant that they have maintained their eight point gap to seventh spot and have even gained a point on Southampton above them with all clubs playing two games over the long weekend.

Three of the chasing pack have a game in hand over the Baggies but Preston North End’s is away to Southampton, while Coventry City and Hull City’s game in hand is against one another. Furthermore, Albion have a significant goal difference advantage over all the sides below them, with the Sky Blues closest with a six goal deficit. All in all, the Baggies are in a strong position and the odds all point to a play-off semi-final against Southampton next month.

However, let’s not get ahead of ourselves and Carlos Corberán is certainly not looking much further than this weekend’s trip to Stoke City. The Baggies’ former bogey side were relegated along with Albion in 2018 but have never looked close to getting back having finished no higher than 14th since then. This season has been no different and they changed manager once again in December, replacing Alex Neil with the former Plymouth Argyle boss, Steve Schumacher, but the Scouser has failed to spark much of a recovery in form and there were, until very recently, looking like getting dragged into a relegation dogfight. Three wins in their last six games have eased those concerns to a degree, but they are only five points above the bottom three albeit the six sides below them only managed nine points between them over the Easter weekend with marooned Rotherham United and Birmingham City the only ones to pick up a win.

The Potters, themselves, picked up a win at Hull City, who have now gone six games without a win, before a 1-1 home draw with fellow strugglers Huddersfield Town. Their other two recent victories have also come against play-off hopefuls away to Preston and at home to Middlesbrough, but they have also lost to Leeds United, Norwich City and Coventry City, so there is little consistency to their form at present.

Even so, Schumacher is likely to treat this weekend’s game as something of a free hit. There is no expectation for them to get anything and the real pressure will come in their future games against two of the teams below them in Plymouth Argyle and Sheffield Wednesday. That could prove dangerous for Albion if they don’t treat their opponents with sufficient respect, but I’m sure Corberán will prepare them correctly.

Tyrese Campbell is the only player to have played for Stoke City in the Premier League that to be still at the club. The striker, still only 24, has had a difficult season with injury and has scored only once, but then goalscoring has been a problem throughout the side as only the bottom two in the Championship have scored fewer than City’s 38 goals this season.

Their top scorer is André Vidigal, one of whose six goals came against Albion in the League Cup in August, but even he hasn’t scored since Boxing Day and hasn’t started a game since early February. Former Wolves youth player Niall Ennis started up front in their last game against Huddersfield Town while Ryan Mmaee has been Schumacher’s preferred striker albeit he has only just returned to the side following a knee injury. Schumacher’s options have been further complicated with a number of players, including Mmaee along with Medrie Léris and Sead Hakšabanović, currently observing Ramadan.

Ramadan, which ends next Tuesday, is also being observed by Albion’s newest signing, Yann M’Vila. The Frenchman has made two substitute appearances including an important 23 minutes against Watford on Monday as he, along with Adam Reach, provided some extra energy in midfield as Corberán’s usual pairing of Yokuşlu and Mowatt were replaced. I suspect Corberán may not start him until Ramadan has finished given that he has other options, but from the little evidence we have so far, he certainly looks like a useful addition to the squad.

This weekend could also see the return to the squad of Josh Maja who has been training for a couple of weeks and may well be ready for a place on the bench. BTA ended a lengthy goal drought on Monday but it will be a huge boost for Corberán to have another striker available for the final few games of the season and, of course, the hoped-for play-off campaign. Matt Phillips made his return at Millwall but was an unused substitute against Watford. His route to a starting place is somewhat more difficult given the form of Johnston and Fellows kept even Jed Wallace out of the starting eleven on Monday, but I’m sure he will get to make his mark during the run-in.

Corberán hopes to welcome Cédric Kipré back to the starting line up at the bet365 Stadium after the Frenchman missed Monday’s match with a shoulder injury. Semi Ajayi was an able deputy but the Frenchman has been one of Albion’s most consistent performers this season and will surely play if fully fit.

Albion were not at their best over Easter and they will be looking to put in a much better display this weekend and protect a six match unbeaten run on the road and and eight-match undefeated streak overall, both of which are the second-best in the division behind Leeds United who last tasted defeat at the Hawthorns in December. Nine or ten points should be more than enough to secure a top six spot – three at Stoke City would be a big dent in that!


Saturday will see the 148th league meeting between Albion and Stoke City and, thanks to the Potters’ 30-year reign as the Baggies’ undisputed bogey side, they hold a handsome lead in the head-to-head record with 63 wins to 48. Thankfully, the departure of Tony Pulis from Stoke brought that bogey team status to an end and Albion have edged the stats over the past decade or so.

While Albion were beaten at the bet365 Stadium in the League Cup earlier this season, their league record at the Potters’ current home has been decent since Pulis took over at the Hawthorns with four wins from their last seven visits including three in their last four. Last season, a rare Jayson Molumby double earned the points for Carlos Corberán’s team to re-ignite play-off hopes after picking up just one point over the Easter weekend had looked to have ended their chances.

There is only one digit difference between the scorelines of Stoke’s biggest win over Albion, and the Baggies’ best result away to the Potters, but there is a wealth of difference between the feelings engendered by 10-3 and 0-3! Stoke City are, of course, responsible for Albion’s biggest ever defeat and the only side to have notched up double figures against them. The fateful day was 4th February 1937 and Stoke’s Freddie Steele scored half of the hosts’ goals at the Victoria Ground in front of just over 8,000 people. The Potters’ team included a 27-year-old Stanley Matthews who played against the Baggies for the last time at the Hawthorns more than 23 years later in December 1960, and played his last top flight match in February 1965 at the age of 50 against a Fulham team managed by Albion’s legendary manager, Vic Buckingham. Spanning the generations, the Cottagers’ team included both Bobby Robson, a mere 31 at the time, and Rodney Marsh who was just 20 years old having been born almost three decades after Matthews!

Albion have twice won 3-0 at Stoke, both times at the Victoria Ground. The first was in a Division Two match April 1930 when Jimmy Cookson scored twice and Jimmy Edwards bagged the other goal for the visitors. The second occasion was in September 1982 when Cyrille Regis, Peter Eastoe and Ally Brown were the scorers.

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion W D W W D D
Stoke City W L W L W D

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

16 Dec 2023 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Thomas-Asante)
Stoke City 1 (Gooch)

Last meeting at Stoke City

8 Aug 2023 – League Cup 1st Round
Stoke City 2 (Griffiths (o.g.), Vidigal)
West Bromwich Albion 1 (Thomas-Asante)

Last win

15 Apr 2023 – League Championship
Stoke City 1 (Brown)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Molumby (2))

Albion’s Record against Stoke City

  Overall   Away
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 147 48 36 63 196 214   73 14 22 37 70 125
FA Cup 5 3 2 0 12 6   1 0 1 0 2 2
League Cup 1 0 0 1 1 2   1 0 0 1 1 2
Other 1 0 0 1 1 2   1 0 0 1 1 2
Total 154 51 38 65 210 224   76 14 23 39 74 131

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