Struggling Stoke next up for the Baggies

West Bromwich Albion v Stoke City; The Hawthorns, Sunday 17th December 2023, 12 noon

Albion return to the Hawthorns on Sunday for the first of three home games out of the last four in this calendar year. The opponents, Stoke City, are the third club in the row that the Baggies have faced having recently disposed of their manager. Alex Neil was dismissed last Sunday after they were beaten at home by struggling Sheffield Wednesday, a fourth successive defeat for the Potters, a result that left them precariously close to the drop zone.

When Stoke were beaten by Leicester City in early October, they had just ten points from their opening eleven games and were fourth bottom. They looked to have found some form with back-to-back home wins over Sunderland and Leeds United followed by a win at Middlesbrough which lifted them into the top half of the table by the end of October, but they have picked up just three points since and look to be very much in the relegation fight. First team coach, Paul Gallagher, was put in caretaker charge after Neil’s sacking and, on Tuesday evening, they conceded a late equaliser to another managerless club, Swansea City, which means they are still just two points outside the bottom three.

Goalscoring seems to be their biggest issue having notched just 20 in their 21 matches this campaign – only the three sides in the bottom three have scored fewer. Former Baggies striker, Dwight Gayle, is still at the Bet365 but has been limited on game time this season and is yet to find the net in this campaign. André Vidigal, who scored against Albion in the cup match earlier this season, is their top scorer with five but hasn’t found the net since September, while Ryan Mmaee and Mehdi Léris have three each.

Carlos Corberán has his own problems up front with confirmation that both Matt Phillips and Josh Maja will be missing for several months. Thankfully, Jed Wallace was fit enough to return and score on Tuesday night, but John Swift seems to have ongoing fitness concerns and it is not clear whether he would be able to start on Sunday. Molumby played as the furthest forward of a midfield three at Rotherham, and I’m sure Corberán would like to employ Swift’s guile against a side that are unlikely to be too ambitious given their current form. Brandon Thomas-Asante, who scored in both games against Stoke last season, Grady Diangana and Jeremy Sarmiento have been the mainstay of the Albion forward line of late and it seems likely that they will all be deployed once again. Mowatt and Okay are likely to keep the central midfield slots while the back four also seems to be stable at the moment.

Having got back to winning ways on Tuesday, the Baggies need to reinforce that with another three points against another struggling side. The sides below Albion have continued to drop points in recent weeks while those above are much more consistent. Nonetheless, Southampton in fourth are only four points ahead of Corberán’s team before the weekend despite a thirteen match unbeaten run.

The days of Stoke being a bogey side are surely behind us – another three points will help to confine such thoughts to ancient history.


A run of just three wins in 36 games between 1989 and 2014 has left the Baggies way behind in the head-to-head record with Stoke City. Since Tony Pulis left the Potteries, Albion have clawed back a little of the deficit winning nine and drawing two of the subsequent sixteen meetings albeit Stoke have won four of the last six encounters including the Carabao Cup meeting at the Bet365 Stadium in the first week of the current campaign. The Baggies have lost just one of the last eight between the clubs at the Hawthorns, however, a 1-0 defeat in January 2020, and they completed the league double over the Potters last season.

Sunday’s match will be almost 35 years to the day since the game before that awful run started. On 18th December 1988, there seemed little prospect of Stoke becoming a bogey side for Albion was they were dispatched 6-0 by Brian Talbot’s team with Gary Robson, Don Goodman and John Paskin all scoring twice. That is the Baggies’ best win in this fixture although they also scored six in September 1965 – an own goal from Maurice Setters set the hosts on their way at the Hawthorns before John Kaye made it two and a Bobby Cram penalty took it to 3-0. Roy Vernon had pulled one back for the visitors by half time before Tony Brown restored the three-goal lead just after the break. John Kaye completed his hat trick either side of another Stoke goal from Peter Dobing to make the final score 6-2.

The Potters’ best win at the Hawthorns is a 3-0 victory in November 2010. All the goals came in the second half with Matthew Etherington and Jon Walters both scoring penalties before Walters added his second and the visitors’ third in stoppage time.

Like Albion, Stoke were one of the Founder Members of the Football League and, indeed, the two clubs played each other on the opening day of the Football League in September 1888 at the Victoria Ground. The Throstles won 2-0 and Stoke have never had an overall positive goal difference in league football ever since! They finished bottom of the table for the first two league seasons but, without anywhere to be relegated to, they stayed in the top flight until dropping down to the second division in 1907. The “City” wasn’t added to their name until 1925 when Stoke-on-Trent was granted city status.

City’s only major trophy is the League Cup win of 1972 when they beat Chelsea 2-1 in the Wembley final – they had reached the final of the League Cup in 1964 but lost to Leicester City over two legs, and they also reached the FA Cup Final in 2011 but lost 1-0 to Manchester City. Their highest finishing position in the top flight is fifth which they achieved in both 1974 and 1975.

Stat Attack

Current Form

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

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

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

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

12 Nov 2022 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Bartley, Thomas-Asante)
Stoke City 0

Last win

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

Albion’s Record against Stoke City

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 146 48 35 63 195 213   73 34 13 26 125 88
FA Cup 5 3 2 0 12 6   4 3 1 0 10 4
League Cup 1 0 0 1 1 2   0 0 0 0 0 0
Other 1 0 0 1 1 2   0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 153 51 37 65 209 223   77 37 14 26 135 92

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