Two defeats put Baggies under early pressure for Hawthorns opener

West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City; The Hawthorns, Saturday 12th August 2023, 3pm

Albion kick of their Hawthorns campaign this weekend looking to improve from two opening defeats on the road. The visitors are Swansea City who kicked off life under new head coach, Michael Duff, with a draw at home to Birmingham City before dispatching Northampton Town convincingly in the League Cup in Tuesday evening.

There have been the predictable expressions of woe and calls for players to be axed from certain sections of the Albion twitterati and, while there were obvious concerns with the way that Albion conceded goals in both matches, it is a little too early to start drawing too many conclusions. Moreover, Corberán is unlikely to make snap decisions on the future of players’ inclusion in the team or squad on the basis of one mistake. It would be interesting to know if those calling for Kipré to be axed feel the same about Alex Mowatt or, indeed, Alex Palmer? All three have made a mistake that has directly or indirectly led to a goal, with even Corberán putting part of the blame for Rovers’ second on his goalkeeper.

I feel that those thinking that Kipré will not feature against Swansea will be disappointed. The centre back pairing of the Frenchman alongside Semi Ajayi was Corberán’s choice for the final pre-season friendly at Bolton and the opening league game – I don’t see him changing it just yet. Both players offer what he is looking for from a centre back – they are comfortable on the ball and have a good range of passing.

Kipré’s perceived defensive failings from before his loan spell in Cardiff were more about his positioning than his passing, and it is ironic that one misplaced pass have some fans on his back. Unfortunately for the 26-year-old, he is starting from a deficit in terms of his reputation with the Albion fan base and it will take a series of stand-out performances to pull that back. He was well-regarded at Cardiff and I remember many bemoaning the fact that he couldn’t be recalled in January – I’m prepared to give him a chance and, more importantly, I’m certain that his head coach is of the same mind.

Form my point of view, the more baffling selection decision is the one to play Nathaniel Chalobah. I’m yet to see any performance from him that since he joined in January that would warrant him a starting spot when there are other options available. His outburst and subsequent apology have at least shown he is aware that he is performing below par and frustrated by it, but he should not get in above either Molumby or Okay as a defensive midfielder, and Molumby doesn’t have the technical ability to thrive at a number ten. I would like to see the Turk and the Irishman holding with either Swift or Mowatt behind the striker.

There’s a good chance that Baggies fans will get to see both of the new signings on Saturday albeit neither will start. Sarmiento has come off the bench in both of Albion’s games so far but this weekend is likely to see Maja included in the matchday squad for the first time.

Saturday’s opponents, Swansea City, are at the beginning of another new era following the departure of Russell Martin to Southampton in the summer. The Swans ended last season with a run of nine wins and two draws in their last eleven games, ending with a 3-2 over the Baggies on the final day, which took them from 17th to a 10th-placed finish.

New boss, Michael Duff, has an impressive coaching record having led Cheltenham Town to their first ever automatic promotion in the Football League in 2021 when he was named the EFL Manager of the Season. The following season, the Robbins finished in their highest ever position, 15th in the third tier, but he opted to move to Barnsley in the summer of 2022. He led the Tykes to the play-off final in his only season there, losing to Sheffield Wednesday in extra time, before moving to south Wales in late June.

City’s highest profile signing of the summer was probably that of Blackpool striker, Jerry Yates, who scored 14 Championship goals for the Seasiders in the last campaign. He was joined on the incomings list by young Ukranian forward, Mykola Kukharevych, from French club, Troyes, Exeter City defender, Joshua Key, and former Walsall winger, Josh Ginelly, who made the move from Hearts and scored on his debut against Northampton on Tuesday.

Under the new boss, Swansea are something of an unknown quantity but at the Hawthorns, Albion should be fairly confident having lost just one of their last 15 matches at home. Two defeats to open the season might feel like a mini-crisis, but I don’t think we are at the must-win stage yet. However, three points would certainly take some of the pressure off ahead of a tough trip to Leeds United on Friday.


Swansea City are currently on a run of four successive victories against Albion having completed the league double in each of the past two campaigns to take a 22-17 lead in the head-to-head wins record. It has also taken their Hawthorns victories total to six having not won at the Shrine on their first eight visits.

Less than 10,500 spectators watched the Swans’ first win in B71, in a Division Three fixture in January 1992 – Bobby Gould’s team surrendered a 2-0 half time lead and allowed Steve Thornber to score a hat-trick in the final eleven minutes of the match to claim all three points for the visitors, managed by future Baggies caretaker boss, Frank Burrows.

There was a full house the following season when Burrows returned with his Swansea side for the second leg of the Division Two Play-Offs, Many of those in attendance, the author included, will remember that night as the best atmosphere experienced at the Hawthorns as Ossie Ardiles’ team came back from a 2-1 first leg deficit to win 2-0 on the night thanks to goals from Andy Hunt and Ian Hamilton.

Memorable meetings since include Salomón Rondón’s hat-trick of headers in the 3-1 win in December 2016 and, of course, the Matheus Pereira-inspired 5-1 rout in December 2019, Albion’s last victory in this fixture.

That result is only beaten by the 6-2 win over the then-named Swansea Town in October 1929 when Tommy Glidden scored four of Albion’s goals with Frank Cresswell and Joe Carter scoring the others. With the match coming in the midst of the Wall Street Crash, two days after Black Thursday and two days before Black Monday, perhaps it was a Black Saturday for the Swans!

Stat Attack

Current Form

Albion L L W L L L
Swansea City W W D W D W

All competitions; most recent game on the right

Last matches

Last meeting

8 May 2023 – League Championship
Swansea City 3 (Cundle, Ntcham, Piroe)
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Yokuslu, Ajayi)

Last meeting at the Hawthorns

1 Oct 2022 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 2 (Livermore, Diangana)
Swansea City 3 (Sorinola, Ntcham, Obafemi)

Last win

8 Dec 2019 – League Championship
West Bromwich Albion 5 (Ajayi, Pereira, Robson-Kanu, Phillips, Edwards)
Swansea City 1 (Surridge)

Albion’s Record against Swansea City

  Overall   Home
  P W D L F A   P W D L F A
League 46 16 9 21 75 71   23 12 5 6 52 28
FA Cup 1 0 0 1 2 3   0 0 0 0 0 0
League Cup 2 1 1 0 2 1   1 1 0 0 2 1
Total 49 17 10 22 79 75   24 13 5 6 54 29

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