High- flyers West Bromwich Albion will face a tough test on Wednesday night when they welcome in-form Derby County to the Hawthorns.
The Baggies come into the game in second place, a point behind leaders Leeds, and five in front of third-placed Brentford. With only five games remaining, a win over the Rams would put Slaven Bilic’s side in a brilliant position to return to the top-flight they left two years ago.
Since football’s restart Wayne ‘Wazza’ Rooney’s merry band of sheep have been in an excellent run of form, which has seen them jump from twelfth up to seventh. Phillip Cocu’s team now look in contention for the final playoff spot and another chance at reaching the Premier League, after having lost last year's final to Aston Villa.
When and Where
The match will take place at 5:00pm on Wednesday 8th July, at West Brom’s home the Hawthorns.
The two sides have met 119 times throughout history, with Derby coming out on top by a considerable margin, 52 wins to Albion’s 37.
The teams met at Pride Park back in August, when an 84th minute Kenneth Zohore penalty rescued a 1-1 draw for West Brom, after the hosts had scored a spot-kick of their own and had another saved.
West Brom have not won any of their last three clashes with Derby, losing two and drawing one, including a 4-1 humbling to a Frank Lampard managed Rams in this fixture last year.
West Brom will be without centre-back Ahmed Hegazi, after the Egyptian was sent off for two yellows in their last match against Hull. Kieran Gibbs will also miss Derby’s visit after suffering an injury in the same game.
Talented young full-back Nathan Ferguson has decided he’s not a fan of West Bromwich, who can blame him, and has left the club after running his contract down.
Derby have not one, but two suspended for this fixture. Tom Lawrence will serve the final game of his suspension for deciding to get into a fight with Reading centre-back Matt Miazga last month, and Martyn Waghorn will miss the game after getting sent off in Derby’s last match against Nottingham Forest.
Derby will also be without striker Jack Marriott, who is still recovering from groin surgery.
Last 5 Games
(W) 4-2 v Hull
(W) 3-0 v Sheffield Wednesday
(L) 1-0 v Brentford
(D) 0-0 v Birmingham
(D) 0-0 v Swansea
After a shaky re-start to the campaign, which included draw with Birmingham and a loss to promotion rival Brentford, the Baggies have really started to hit their stride. A double from Mathias Periera, and a penalty from one of my favourite people in the entire world Charlie Austin, breezed them past Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, before Austin scored again, on our joint birthday, in a 4-2 demolition of Hull at the Hawthorns last Sunday.
(D) 1-1 v Nottingham Forest
(W) 1-0 v Preston
(W) 2-1 v Reading
(W) 3-2 v Millwall
(W) 3-0 v Blackburn
Phillip Cocu’s team have been in inspired form; going unbeaten since the Championship returned from its Coronavirus holiday. One goal victories over Reading as well as play-off rivals Millwall and Preston, the latter thanks to a penalty from Manchester’s favourite Ogre Wayne Rooney, preceded a respectable 1-1 draw with fifth-placed Nottingham Forest thanks to a 97th-minute equaliser from Chris Martin.
I expect a very tense game at the Hawthorns with a lot riding on it for both teams. Derby have been in amazing form as of late and have seemed to have West Brom’s number in recent years, but Slaven Bilic’s side have bounced back well from the defeat to Brentford a few weeks ago and I think they will manage a good result from this one as well.
Match Preview written by Jamie Perry