Wolverhampton Wanderers vs West Bromwich Albion: Pre-match analysis
WOLVERHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 08: Adama Traore of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates after scoring their sides first goal with team mate Conor Coady during the FA Cup Third Round match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Crystal Palace at Molineux Stadium on January 08, 2021 in Wolverhampton, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Wolverhampton Wanderers face their local rivals West Bromwich Albion for the first time in nine years this weekend, after being beaten 5-1 last time the two sides faced in 2012. 

Both sides come into this game having lost last time out. Hosts Wolves fell defeat to Everton, with goals from Alex Iwobi and Michael Keane sealing the Wanderers' fate.

As for Sam Allardyce's West Brom side, they lost 4-0 to a resurgent Arsenal team under Mikel Arteta, before being dumped out of the FA Cup by Blackpool

The visitors come into this game knowing that there is a lot of work to be done in order to stay in the Premier League. The Baggies are six points adrift from 17th spot, and they need to start picking up points in games such as these in order to avoid relegation.

Conversely, Nuno Espirito Santo's Wolverhampton Wanderers side are still only eight points off sixth spot, despite only having one win in eight games.

In recent weeks however, Wolves seem to be lacking impetus in the final third, and since the loss of main talisman Raúl Jimenez the Wanderers have really struggled for goals. 

  • Wanderers starting slowly

In recent weeks, Wolverhampton Wanderers have developed a habit of starting games slowly, and going behind first. Wolves have gone behind first in eight of their last nine Premier League matches, meaning they have to chase the game.

It is paramount that Wolves don't go behind early in this one, because not only will it mean they have to work harder during the match, it also means that the pressure will be upped on the players. 

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The players in both camps will know how important this match is for both sets of fans, and if Nuno's side go behind early, like they have been doing recently, it will give West Brom something to hold onto and defend for, which is what we saw when they faced Manchester City and Liverpool where they defended very well and left with points. 

Wolves will be confident of clinching a win in this game, which would see them rise to 11th in the league, leapfrogging Crystal Palace, Leeds United and Arsenal if results elsewhere go their way. 

  • Baggies' leaky defence a worry

Despite showing some defence character to earn points against the best two sides in the league, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp's sides', West Bromwich Albion have recently been conceding goals, and far too many of them if they are to stay in the Premier League.

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In their last seven games, they have shipped a total of 21 goals, with nine of them coming in the last two games alone, against Leeds United and Arsenal. 

Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone has been the standout player for the Baggies, as he has made some excellent saves to earn his side vital points this season.

If West Bromwich Albion can start this game well, and perhaps go ahead early on, then they will have a huge chance of winning the game. They have to be compact and stop the Wolves players from running with the ball and finding pockets of space where they can be hurt. 

  • The Verdict

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs West Bromwich Albion is a game that every midlands football fan has wanted to see for many years, and the wait is finally over.

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Form will largely go out the window, and both sides will be throwing the kitchen sink at each other to see who cracks first.

Wolves have recently been lacking goals, and West Brom have recently been conceding goals, and a lot of them. One has to give tomorrow, and it will be an exciting game to watch for both sets of fans.

Ruben Neves has been Wolves' main man in recent weeks, as he has found the net from midfield in the previous two Premier League games, and it could very well be the Portuguese midfielder who Wolves look to in order to control the game, and pick the pass to unlock the Albion defence.

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