With eight of the remaining thirteen games at the Hawthorns, it is clear that Albion’s home form will be the key if they are to get back in the mix for a top six place this season.
The Baggies dreadful recent form, which has seen them take just nine points from their last twelve matches, has left them eight points off sixth place in need of what would be an almost miraculous turnaround in fortune if they are to finish in the play offs.
That run has included six straight defeats away from home with Albion having not picked up a single point away from the Hawthorns since Christmas but their home form has been good this season, albeit they have won only three of their last eight in B71.
Monday evening’s match against Swansea City is undoubtedly a must win game if Steve Bruce’s side are to retain any hopes of a top six finish. The team has managed to put in a few 45 minute performances since the former Newcastle United boss took over from Valérien Ismaël but that has resulted in just one point from four games, and a full 90-minute display is needed.
So far, Bruce has not changed the personnel too much hoping that the change in formation and management style would be enough to spark a turnaround, but it hasn’t worked as yet. The senior squad is still hampered by injuries with Darryl Dike, Matt Phillips and Kenneth Zohore absent leaving the new manager with few options amongst the senior squad, but fans have been calling for Taylor Gardner-Hickman to start while Bruce also has the option of delving deeper into the U23 squad. He has already used Rayhaan Tulloch as a substitute while his predecessor also used Tom Fellows in addition to Gardner-Hickman in league matches. It is undoubtedly a big step from U23 football to the Championship and, while there is an argument that they couldn’t do much worse than their senior colleagues, there is also the fear that exposure too early could set back their fledgling careers. One or two youth players in a team can work, many more than that is rarely successful.
However, so seemingly fragile is the confidence of the bulk of the first team players, it is difficult to know how to turn their form around. Should Albion go behind against Swansea, I would certainly be fearing yet another defeat. However, the Swans’ form on the road is almost as bad as Albion’s having picked up just two points in their six away games since a 2-0 win at Barnsley in November, and they have conceded seven goals without scoring in their last to games away from south Wales, going down 3-0 at Stoke City and 4-0 at Sheffield United. If Albion can take the lead themselves, it could be the visitors’ confidence that may prove fragile.
Before what will unfortunately be another low attendance at the Hawthorns due to a combination of poor form and yet another televised weekday evening fixture, it is a match that Albion need to win. Bruce knows it, the players know it and the fans know it – it could be a very nervy evening, but it could also be the night that the Baggies get back on track.
In the first five meetings between Albion and Swansea Town, as they were then known, between 1927 and 1929 produced no fewer than 33 goals, an average of more than six per game, with the home side winning on each occasion. The three games at the Hawthorns finished 5-2, 5-1 and 6-2 while at the Vetch Field they finished 3-2 and 6-1.
The 6-2 win on 26th October 1929 (for history buffs, that was in the midst of the Wall Street Crash), is Albion’s biggest win over the Welsh club with Tommy Glidden scoring four of their goals. Since then, only one meeting had produced six goals, a 3-3 draw in Swansea in November 1982, until a Matheus Pereira-inspired Baggies won 5-1 in the last meeting between the sides at the Hawthorns.
The Swans have only won at the Hawthorns on four occasions, and only once has that been by more than one goal, their most recent victory in September 2013 when goals from Ben Davies and Pablo Hernández earn Michael Laudrup’s side a 2-0 victory in the Premier League.
Regular visitors to these pages may have read about the two five goalless game streaks that Ronnie Allen endured as Albion boss – the second of those in 1981 was preceded by a 4-1 victory over John Toshak’s Swansea City in their first ever top flight season. A Cyrille Regis hat trick was interrupted by a Steve Mackenzie strike before Neil Robinson scored a consolation for the visitors – it was the Baggies’ first win of the season which showed no indication of the goalless run that was to follow.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
20 Oct 2021 – League Championship
Swansea City 2 (Piroe, Paterson)
West Brom 1 (Grant)
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
8 Dec 2019 – League Championship
West Brom 5 (Ajayi, Pereira, Robson-Kanu, Phillips, Edwards)
Swansea City 1 (Surridge)
Albion’s Record against Swansea City
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