West Bromwich Albion will be hoping to rediscover their form when they visit Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday evening, after letting their lead over third place slip to five points.
The Baggies, alongside Leeds United, had opened a comfortable gap at the top of the Championship, but a poor run of form from Slaven Bilic’s men has resulted in the gap being closed by the chasing pack.
With just seven Championship games remaining, they won’t want to let all their hard work go to waste, and picking up a win at mid-table Sheffield Wednesday would be a big step towards making sure that doesn’t happen.
The hosts have picked up a draw and a win since the Championship’s return – against Nottingham Forest and Bristol City respectively – so are in good form going into the match. They did, however, suffer back-to-back defeats against Derby County and Brentford before the break, losing to the latter 5-0.
West Brom will want to right the wrongs after losing 1-0 to Brentford in last Friday’s crunch tie, and they are yet to pick up a win since the restart after drawing against Birmingham in their first game back.
The Baggies lost to Wigan Athletic and drew with Swansea City before football was put on hold, too, so a win on Wednesday would do their confidence a world of good ahead of the promotion run in.
Neither team has any fresh injury concerns, but Wednesday will be boosted by the news that loan quartet Alessio Da Cruz, Jacob Murphy, Connor Wickham and Josh Windass have extended their stays until the end of the season.
Windass, though, and Sam Winnall, remained sidelined for the Owls.
Steven Fletcher, Fernando Forestieri and Morgan Fox will all miss out after deciding against extending their contracts.
West Brom came out on top in this season’s reverse fixture, winning 2-1 thanks to a late Charlie Austin penalty.
They are unbeaten against the Owls since 2007, winning four and drawing three games in that time, but it is Wednesday that lead the way overall with 53 wins to West Brom’s 37. There have also been 28 draws between the two sides.
Wednesday captain Barry Bannan will be as important as ever for the Owls in midfield. Meanwhile, with top scorer Fletcher’s departure imminent, Wickham will be vital for his side, and will be high on confidence after netting in the win at Bristol City last week and in the draw against Forest the week before.
As ever, creative midfielder Matheus Pereira will prove to be a huge threat for West Brom. The 24-year-old has registered six goals and an impressive 12 assists so far this season, and is vital to the Baggies’ play.
Elsewhere, Semi Ajayi and Ahmed Helgazy have formed a solid partnership at the centre of defence whilst Matt Phillips is always threatening from out wide, but Bilic may make changes in an attempt to turn round his team’s fortunes.
What the managers have said
Wednesday manager Gary Monk told YorkshireLive: “There will be some difficult moments in these last seven games. It will not all go our way, and we have to be ready for that.
“If we can get the attitude right with our performances, I think our fans will accept and appreciate that.
“No one is getting carried away. There is still stuff to work on. What we have to do is show the attitude we showed against Bristol City in these last seven games.”
Via Birmingham Live, West Brom boss Bilic said: “These games are different, but they’re also very similar. If you want to impose yourself, you have to run, suffer, and take responsibility."
He was very complimentary of his team’s opponents, too.
“They [Wednesday] play in a different way to Brentford, but they come into the same areas” he said.
“I do not see them defending for their lives for 90 minutes – they did not get those results against Bristol City and Nottingham Forest by playing like that.
“They are happy for you to have the ball, but they are well organised. They can become quite dangerous in no time.
“If you give them time in midfield, they have good players. We have to tick all the boxes.”