Unplanned injuries are not the only frustrating thing about international breaks. They hamper a club’s league run in more ways than that and one of the worst part is breaking their rhythm. Tony Pulis must be really pissed off as the international break came soon as the Baggies were coming back to winning ways after a series of dismal performances.
They host Burnley next and as the match takes place very late on Monday, both the teams will have a good idea of their table position if they manage to win. Burnley have been one of the most favourite opponents of the Baggies to play at home as they haven’t won away at Hawthorns since 1969, losing eight of their nine visits. Last season this fixture ended in a 4-0 thrashing of Burney with Berahino scoring a brace.
The Baggies, however, have a major concern this game as former Aston Villa and Arsenal midfielder Paul Merson, who is infamous for predicting wrong results has prophecied a 3-2 win for the Baggies. Laugh away with me at this. Pulis will be hoping Merson gets it right this one time.
Although Pulis has major fitness concerns in other positions, his defence line looks fit to start the match. He doesn’t have a better option than Ben Foster in goal and we expect him to start against Burnley ahead of Boaz Myhill.
After a disciplined performance against Leicester City, Craig Dawson will continue to keep his place in the right-back position and he is still at 4 yellow cards. Jonny Evans dropped down from his defensive midfield position to the centre back and it has paid off well. He is expected to continue there.
Gareth McAuley will be pairing Evans at the heart of the defence and Allan Nyom is likely to keep his place in the left-back position. Jonas Olsson remains sidelined.
The holding midfield will be taken by the dependable Argentine, Claudio Yacob. The combative midfielder plays a key role in the anchor position breaking up opponents’ game and distributing balls up front. Craig Gardner started from the bench last match and is expected to remain that way.
Captain Darren Fletcher will start at the centre of the attacking midfield alongside James Morrison. Nacer Chadli is still a doubt for the Baggies with a knee injury. Matt Phillips and Chris Brunt is likely to take the flanks as they did in the last match.
The absence of their first-choice forward Saido Berahino and with Salomon Rondon in doubt for the game will give Tony Pulis a tough time replacing them. We expect Pulis to start with James McClean up front.