It may be the day of St Valentine but there is unlikely to be too much love in the air at The Hawthorns on Monday evening when West Bromwich Albion host Blackburn Rovers in a crucial clash in the Sky Bet Championship.
These two teams both have their eyes on promotion this season but a poor run of form has seen one slide away from the automatic positions and the other drop out of the top six completely. They need to turn their form around quickly and will hope that begins here.
Where to watch
The match will be shown live and in full on the Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Football channels. The build-up begins at 7.30pm ahead of an 8pm kick off at The Hawthorns.
West Bromwich Albion
All sides who come down from the Premier League will be expected to make an immediate return with the financial and personnel advantages they have on the rest of the division. That is certainly the case with West Bromwich Albion and after a fast start while the unique style of Valerien Ismael was still a novelty it looked like the Baggies might justify those expectations. The longer his reign went on though it became clear his players did not appreciate a terrible style to watch and form dropped accordingly.
Ismael has now been dumped and Steve Bruce has picked up the reins with promotion still the aim this term even though West Brom go into this match off the back of just one win in their last eight and languishing in ninth place in the league table. That win was only against Peterborough United which isn’t a great form guide but perhaps of more concern is the fact that in six of the other seven games in this run the Baggies have failed to find the back of the net. That is something that has to improve if they are to secure an immediate return to the Premier League.
I think it is fair to say that Blackburn Rovers were dark horses for promotion when the season started but they soon catapulted themselves into real dangers. You would have thought that the best they could do this term was make the play-offs with the calibre of teams in the league this season but a few weeks ago they were looking like gate-crashing the big boys’ party. They are just finding the going a little tough in relation to keeping with the big two but they are still well in the promotion shake up.
Rovers go into this match with just the one win in five though and they haven’t scored in the four matches they haven’t been victorious in. In fact, overall they only have only scored two in their last seven outings so they have dried up in front of goal at just the wrong time. They will be hoping to rectify that here and pick up a win which will not only keep a series of chasers behind them at bay but also move them back to within two points of Bournemouth in third place.
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West Bromwich Albion will be without their skipper Jake Livermore for this contest as he begins a suspension after his red card against Sheffield United. Jayson Molumby is likely to take his place. Dara O’Shea returned from injury at Bramall Lane and will hope to be involved again here.
Blackburn Rovers have good and bad news on the injury front with Harry Pickering expected to make his return from injury for this match. The Lancashire outfit will be without Deyovaisio Zeefuik however as he misses out with a hamstring injury. Darragh Lenihan is banned after his red card against Nottingham Forest.
I don’t know what they put in the tea in the dressing room of Blackburn Rovers but their disciplinary record throughout the course of the campaign has been poor but since the turn of the year it has been absolutely terrible. All but one of their league matches this season has had more than 40 booking points in it and given the likely competitiveness of this match and the fact that West Brom are a pretty physical side that is the way I’m going to attack this game.
I don’t really want to pick the winner of this match because both teams are out of form. I fully expect it to be tight with goals at a premium but I’m not exactly sticking my neck out with that prediction and bookmakers are priced accordingly on that so it is the booking points for me. Both teams had a man dismissed in midweek and have a physicality about them that lives on the edge. The booking points line for this match is 40.5 so we’re looking for five cards or two yellows and a red (not all to the same player) and I expect these two sides to combine for that.
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