West Bromwich Albion will be attempting to make it four wins from five Premier League games as they take on a lowly Norwich City side desperate for its first three-point haul since the beginning of January.
The impressive sequence for the Baggies has raised hopes that they could achieve a top-half finish for the first time in three years, and it has coincided with the return of Saido Berahino to the fold after months on the sidelines as a result of his desire to leave. The striker brings an extra dimension to the team’s attacking play, and is now clearly focused on his football once again, so the club will be all the healthier for it between now and the end of the season.
It has also helped get the best out of record signing Salomon Rondon, who is now in strong form in front of goal. His expertly taken goal a fortnight ago was enough to earn a first home win over Manchester United for over three decades in a game that asked a few questions of his side as they were made to force the issue for most of the game following a first half red card. There is plenty of confidence at West Brom at present, and here their on-song front three will expect to have success over an often frail Norwich backline.
However, said backline had enough within them to deny Manchester City a route to goal last weekend. Forced to chase the game for much of the first half, Alex Neil’s side rarely allowed their expensively assembled opponents to create any clear chances and indeed they came the closest to snatching what would have been a most unlikely victory. It did not result in the win they all craved at Carrow Road, but the goalless draw will have gone some way to restoring some belief at the club.
After such a wretched run of results, manager Neil decided to try something different and play with on-loan Chelsea man Patrick Bamford as the lone striker. It is a role that the 22-year-old is used to, and he showed impressive link-up play as well as the technique to rattle the crossbar with a cracking volley. Although the service from midfield has been lacking at times this season, finding somebody who can score is key to the Canaries’ hopes of survival, which hang very much in the balance.
Jonathan Evans may make his comeback for West Brom following a hamstring injury, but James Morrison is out due to a similar complaint.
Defender Ryan Bennett is a major doubt for Norwich, who also hit by an injury to Nathan Redmond that will keep him out for around four weeks.
Last Meeting: A rare good away performance from Norwich saw them emerge with all three points in this fixture in December 2013 in what turned out to be Steve Clarke’s final home game in charge of West Brom. Gary Hooper opened the scoring after 13 minutes as his low drive found the far corner following good play from Leroy Fer. And it was the Dutchman who wrapped it up late on, finishing off a counter-attack.