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WBA-MAD Preview: Albion vs Swansea
Published : 08 Mar 2013 15:16:23
Joseph Chapman looks forward to Swansea visit
There are still plenty of positions in the Barclays Premier League that are still up for grabs. But it is almost certain that two of the top ten positions will be occupied by Swansea and Albion.
Both clubs sit comfortably on 40 points with ten games to go – perhaps unexpectedly. Steve Clarke, the Albion boss, is currently enjoying his first job as a full head coach after years of assisting greats like Mourinho and Sir Bobby Robson. It was a gamble, something that many felt would backfire, but the Scot has rewarded the Baggies' faith by placing them on course for their best ever Premier League finish.
Michael Laudrup had big boots to fill. The Dane came from Spain, Huw Jenkins' decisive candidate to replace the departing Brendan Rodgers. Laudrup has gone one further, delivering a trophy in his maiden season and ensuring Europe beckons for the Liberty Stadium.
Both have a chance to overtake Rodgers' underachieving Liverpool in this mini 'race for seventh' with a win - although the Reds will be intent on catching their Merseyside rivals Everton, who sit in sixth and implosive Arsenal in fifth. No matter how this campaign pans out, both Baggies and Swans can be mightily proud of their achievements.
Off the field, a degree of credit must be handed to both chairmen. Messrs Jenkins and Peace are notoriously shrewd (note acquisitions Michu and Yacob) but there is a successful continuity in the managerial hot-seat. Jackett, Martinez, Sousa, Rodgers and now Laudrup. Mowbray, Di Matteo, Hodgson and now Clarke. Always one step ahead, a feat that shouldn't go unnoticed, just how a club should be run.
Albion could have a trio of returning players for the visit of Swansea. Goran Popov is available after serving a three match ban, while Romelu Lukaku will return after being ineligible against parent club Chelsea last week. Chris Brunt could also make a return following his absence at Stamford Bridge, but Shane Long is a doubt with an ankle knock.
Chico Flores will again be absent again for the Swans, after the Spanish centre back suffered an ankle injury against QPR, keeping him out of the League Cup final. Kemy Agustien is also out, while the game may come too soon for Neill Taylor's long awaited return.
Match statsWest Brom remain the only club in the Premier League who have not had an Englishman score for them this season. Of the last five meetings, Swansea have won four, including the last two at the Hawthorns and the last three, which have been the only three Premier League meetings. Swansea haven't scored or won in their last four away from home. Their last away win came at Fulham in December. Players to have played for both: Craig Beattie, Luke Moore, Ashley Williams
What do you think the score will be tomorrow? Have your say here at Baggies Banter.
Source: WBA MAD