Carlos looks for win number three against the Potters

West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City; The Hawthorns, Saturday 12th November, 3pm

After his first full week between fixtures as Albion boss, Carlos Corberán prepares to welcome Stoke City to the Hawthorns for the Baggies’ final fixture before the Championship takes a four week break for the World Cup.

With Daryl Dike and Tom Rogic unsurprisingly not included in the respective USA and Australia squads, the Spaniard will have a full squad to work with for most of that period although Irish internationals, Dara O’Shea and James Molumby, have been called up for the Republic’s friendlies against Norway and Malta on 17th and 20th November respectively.

Back to back victories and successive clean sheets point to a positive impact from Albion’s new head coach and the comments coming from the camp suggest that this is more than just a new manager bounce. Last Saturday’s victory at Loftus Road was particularly pleasing given that QPR had won five of their previous six home games, although Rangers’ subsequent home defeat to Huddersfield Town suggests that the wheels may be starting to come off Michael Beale’s wagon.

Stoke City have lost four of their last six games as Alex Neil, who left Sunderland to replace Michael O’Neill in August after the Potters won just one of their opening six games of the season in all competitions, has struggled to get any sort of consistency from the team. Four wins and six defeats from his opening 13 games at the bet365 Stadium is probably not as good as he would have hoped while his previous club, now under former Baggies boss Tony Mowbray, sit just one point and one place behind Stoke with a game in hand.

Former Albion favourite, Dwight Gayle, made the move to north Staffordshire in the summer looking to kick start a career that had stagnated since his sparkling season on loan at the Hawthorns, but despite starting seventeen of City’s nineteen Championship fixtures this season, he is yet to find the net for his new team. Remarkably, his last competitive goal was the winner for Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United against Slaven Bilić’s Albion in December 2020, making it a run of 48 games without a goal.

Carlos Corberán has his own striking dilemma with the man who has played up top most often this season, Karlan Grant, still ruled out with an ankle injury. Matt Phillips played there last weekend while Brandon Thomas-Asante is another option that the Spaniard may consider. Furthermore, there is a chance that Daryl Dike could be involved having come through 45 minutes of a PL2 fixture on Monday evening apparently unscathed. I’m sure he won’t start but an appearance from the bench cannot be ruled out.

One thing that we may have to get used to with Corberán is that he is not afraid to change a winning team. His attention to detail for each opponent is such that he will be willing to change personnel and formation to counter the opponents’ specific strengths, or exploit their specific weaknesses. While the omission of Grant was forced upon him by injury, he made two other changes for the trip to QPR with Pieters coming in for Townsend and Molumby for Taylor Gardner-Hickman. Pieters offers a greater aerial presence in both boxes than Townsend, while Molumby is perhaps a little more tenacious in the tackle than TGH and CC evidently felt the team needed a little more bite in midfield against a stronger opposition.

The Spaniard may also choose to change formation, although if that is based on the opposition setup, he may struggle to decide – of Stoke City’s last eight games, Neil has played four with a back four and four with a back three. Having said that, Albion have looked comfortable in the 4-2-3-1 that has been used in the last two matches, so it may be that the formation flexibility that Corberán likes to employ may have to wait until after the World Cup to give the players time to get used to each option.

In these early days of his tenure at the club, it’s difficult to predict what Corberán will do, but I would expect to see 4-2-3-1 again with maybe one or two changes in personnel. With the 40-year-old Phil Jagielka likely to be at the heart of the Stoke defence, I’d like to see the team set up to play the ball on the ground and look to exploit his lack of pace and mobility by running at defenders – Diangana should play, and maybe TGH as well who likes to carry the ball forward from midfield.

The perfect afternoon would see a comfortable win, some great football and a goal off the bench from Dike. We can but hope!

History

While Stoke City are no longer the bogey side for Albion that they were between the late 90s and the mid 2010s, the run of just one defeat in ten matches that brought the bogey to a shuddering end has been followed by three defeats in the Baggies’ last three games against the Potters. Two of those came at the Hawthorns and the man who scored both goals for the Baggies in their last home win over Stoke City, Dwight Gayle, could well be lining up against Carlos Corberán’s team on Saturday.

Albion’s biggest win over Stoke City came in the midst of a march to the top of the Division Two table under Brian Talbot in 1988. In their final game before Christmas that year, Gary Robson, Don Goodman and John Paskin all bagged a brace as Mick Mills’ City side were battered 6-0 – Tony Ford, who would make the move to the Hawthorns just over three months later, was sent off for the visitors with 20 minutes remaining. The Baggies went top on New Year’s Day 1989 with a 4-0 win over Shrewsbury Town but when Goodman was injured in the FA Cup replay against Everton, their challenge faltered and they finished ninth.

The Potters’ biggest win at the Hawthorns is somewhat more recent in November 2010. Newly promoted Albion, under the stewardship of Roberto di Matteo, had started their Premier League season well rising to the Champions League places in late October. However, by the time Tony Pulis’s team visited the Hawthorns, one point from four games had seen them drop to mid-table and the Welshman’s side compounded Di Matteo’s problems by winning 3-0 thanks to two penalties, one from Matthew Etherington and another from Jon Walters, one of two goals he scored from the bench. A 4-1 win at Goodison Park the following week provided some respite for Albion’s Italian boss, but a continued run of poor form saw him replaced by Roy Hodgson in February.

Hodgson was still in charge when Albion travelled to Stoke in January 2012 – Graham Dorrans scored a stoppage time winner to secure the Baggies’ first top flight victory over the Potters since November 1984 when the two Steves, Hunt and Mackenzie, propelled John Giles’ team to a 2-0 victory.

Stat Attack

Current Form

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

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

9 Apr 2022 – League Championship
West Brom 1 (Robinson)
Stoke City 3 (Livermore (o.g.), Brown, Baker)

Last win

4 Nov 2019 – League Championship
Stoke City 0
West Brom 2 (Phillips, Robson-Kanu (pen))

Last win at the Hawthorns

1 Sep 2018 – League Championship
West Brom 2 (Gayle (2))
Stoke City 1 (Pieters)

Albion’s Record against Stoke City

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 144 46 35 63 191 212   72 33 13 26 123 88
FA Cup 5 3 2 0 12 6   4 3 1 0 10 4
Other 1 0 0 1 1 2   0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 150 49 37 64 204 220   76 36 14 26 133 92

If you cannot see the tables, click here.

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