West Brom V Stoke at The Hawthorns : Match Preview

03 February 2017 09:34
West Brom V Stoke - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

West Brom boss Tony Pulis fears Peter Crouch more than Saido Berahino

West Brom boss Tony Pulis fears the impact of Stoke forward Peter Crouch more than Saido Berahino, who returns to the Hawthorns on Saturday.

Striker Berahino is set to face his former club just two weeks after leaving following revelations on Friday he was suspended for eight weeks between October and December.

The Daily Mail has reported Berahino tested positive for a recreational drug during his time at West Brom while Stoke and the Baggies have confirmed the suspension, although have not said what it was for.

Berahino could form Stoke's strikeforce with Crouch having moved to the Potters from Albion for an initial B#12million last month.

Pulis signed Crouch for B#12million from Tottenham in 2011 and the 36-year-old scored his 100th Premier League goal in Wednesday's 1-1 draw with Everton.

He said: "I fear Crouchy a lot more than Saido. Peter is a fantastic player. I signed him six years ago and it was a lot of money at the time for a 30-year-old and there were one or two people in the club at the time thought it wasn't a good deal.

"But I remember speaking to Peter Coates saying I can understand people saying 'we're not going to get a return on our investment in terms of a transfer fee back but what you'll do is guarantee Premier League football with Crouchy'.

"This year he has signed another contract and he's scored his 100th goal. He's a good player, a good lad, good on and off the pitch. I was frightened he was going to get his 100th goal at West Brom so I was really pleased he got it the other night."

Salomon Rondon will lead the Baggies' line after Pulis confirmed Albion had rejected a B#32million bid from Chinese Super League club Tianjin Quanjian.

He said: "There's been an offer from China but I think the Chinese have made an offer for every centre-forward with two legs and who's running around in English football.

"We understand and accept that's going to happen. If he left that would leave us with just one striker and I don't think we'll be doing that."

Pulis is without Jonny Evans against Stoke as the defender continues to nurse a calf problem and has "one or two" doubts over unnamed players.

"Every week I'm thinking the next week (that Evans will return), I'm hoping for West Ham the following week," he added.

Stoke manager Mark Hughes sees no reason why he should not select Berahino for the match.

While Berahino may find himself under the spotlight again, Hughes does not see why he should leave out a player whom he believes has yet to produce his best football.

"We were aware of that (suspension) before we signed him," Hughes said at a press conference which was covered by the club's website, stokecityfc.com.

"He had issues at his previous club for 18 months, which this is obviously a part of.

"As with all players we did our research on him before we signed him, but that didn't change our thinking at all.

"We are pleased with what he is producing and he is looking forward to the game tomorrow."

The Stoke boss added: "Why wouldn't I play him? He is in line to be involved. He came on to good effect on Wednesday and there is no reason why he shouldn't be involved tomorrow.

"He is itching to play a part, although the way the game is going will determine whether he comes on.

"Most opposition players get some stick, and he will get some I am sure, but he is of the view that he is probably used to having some stick from West Brom supporters."

Stoke's 1-1 draw at home to Everton extended their unbeaten run to three matches thanks to Crouch's goal and Hughes believes the 36-year-old can still continue to play at the top level for some time yet.

"The goal was actually a great goalscorers goal. On the night I thought he was excellent once again, and as I have emphasised for quite some time his attributes and qualities aren't waning at all," Hughes said.

Stoke could close up to within a point of the Baggies, who are eighth, if they can win at The Hawthorns.

Hughes said: "We have never been better than ninth in the Premier League, so we are striving to finish higher than that if we can and we want to do things that this club has never done before."

Source: PAR