Tony Pulis’s Albion side welcome Leicester City to the Hawthorns on Saturday for the first ever Premier League meeting between the sides at the Hawthorns, and the first in the top flight since 1986.
Furthermore, it is Astle Day and the Hawthorns will be paying tribute to the late, great Albion striker, Jeff Astle, and helping to launch the Jeff Astle Foundation, a charity that will fund research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the disease that killed ‘The King’, and also help former footballers with brain disease. Like many Albion fans of today, I was never privileged enough to see Jeff play, but he has always been a hero for all Albion fans and Astle Day should be a fantastic occasion.
The game itself is a crucial one for both sides. The visitors will be looking to build on their win over West Ham last weekend in a bid to launch their own great escape, whereas for the Baggies, last week’s unexpected mauling at the hands of QPR means this game is an even more important opportunity to grab a few more points that will edge them to safety, particularly given the tricky run-in that the fixture computer has thrown up.
The fixture also sees the return of Nigel Pearson to the Hawthorns. The sacking of Bryan Robson in September 2006 saw Pearson take caretaker charge of the Baggies until the appointment of Tony Mowbray, winning three and drawing one of his four games at the helm, with the Baggies scoring 14 goals in the process.
Known as Leicester Fosse until 1919, this weekend’s visitors first met West Bromwich Albion at Filbert Street just after Christmas in 1901 in League Division Two. A brace from Chippy Simmons and another from Jimmy McClean gave Albion the points that day, and a goal from Dan Nurse was enough to complete the league double seven days later in January 1902.
Arthur Rowley, who started his career at the Hawthorns in 1946, holds the record for the most Football League goals in a career with 434 comprising 4 for Albion, 27 for Fulham, 251 for Leicester and 152 for Shrewsbury. He scored them in a mere 619 games, although his record of 4 in 24 for Albion suggests he was a slow starter!
One of the most remarkable games between the sides came at the Hawthorns in September 1954 when Albion won 6-4 thanks to a hat trick from Johnny Nicholls and goals from Ronnie Allen, Frank Griffin and George Lee. John Morris, Derek Hines, Mal Griffiths and Arthur Rowley were the goalscorers for City.
The Baggies’ biggest win over Leicester came in 1965 when a brace from Jeff Astle and goals from Clark, Williams, Howshall and Foggo resulted in a 6-0 win at the Hawthorns. The following season, Astle was on the scoresheet again as Albion ran out 5-1 winners this time with help from a brace from John Kaye and a rare brace of own goals from Leicester’s Scottish full back, John Sjoberg.
Probably the biggest game between the sides came in March 1969 at Hillsbrough when Allan Clarke scored the only goal of the game in the FA Cup semi-final which saw City defeat the holders to reach the final, where they lost 1-0 to Manchester City.
Albion’s recent record against the Foxes has been good. Leicester have won only one of the last ten games between the two sides although, ironically given last weekend’s result, it was a wholly unexpected 4-1 win at the Hawthorns which was a brief interruption to Albion’s title campaign in March 2008. Robert Koren scored the opener for the Baggies, before current Albion man, Gareth McAuley, equalised for Leicester – Steve Howard notched a hat-trick in the second half to take the points back east. It was a particularly bitter pill for the author as I had cycled to that match from my home in Bedfordshire in aid of Sport Relief – ten hours on a bike for that didn’t seem fair!
Since then, Albion have won all four meetings. In 2008-9, the Baggies completed the league double in their last season in the second tier, winning 2-1 at the then “Walkers Stadium” thanks to two goals in three minutes from Graeme Dorrans and Gonzalo Jara, while a brace from Robert Koren and one from James Morrison gave Albion a 3-0 win at the Hawthorns. The following season, Simon Cox (2), Somen Tchoyi and Steve Reid were on the scoresheet in a 4-1 win at the Walkers in the fourth round of the Carling Cup, while last November, Esteban Cambiasso’s own goal at the newly named King Power Stadium was enough for Albion’s first away win of this season.
For Albion, Dawson and Yacob will be available again after suspension, while Youssouf Mulumbu will serve the first of his three match ban for apparently elbowing Joey Barton. Apart from Ben Foster, Albion’s only other injured player is Callum McManaman who is unlikely to be fit to make the squad. Tony Pulis’s reluctance to play any of our recognised full backs should see Dawson return as right back, unless he decides to adopt the formation we finished against QPR with a back three with a combined age of 99!
For the Foxes, midfielder Dean Hammond and defenders Zoumana Bakayogo and Matthew Upson are all injury doubts.
I would like to think that lightning will not strike twice and that the Albion players will realise that they cannot approach this fixture in the same sloppy manner as they did last week. I therefore predict a home win although it’s likely to be tight and it’s unlikely to be pretty.
All competitions; most recent game on the right
1 Nov 2014 – Premier League
Leicester City 0
West Brom 1 (Cambiasso (o.g.))
Last meeting at the Hawthorns
2 Apr 2010 – League Championship
West Brom 3 (Morrison, Koren (2))
Leicester City 0
Albion’s Record against Leicester City
|Premier League Record|