Preview | West Bromwich Albion v Swansea City
Swansea City will seek to put the disappointment of recent away days behind them when they take on West Brom at The Hawthorns tonight (8pm).
While Russell Martin’s side have picked up results with regularity on home turf – and had also recorded encouraging results at Huddersfield and QPR since returning to action after a long Covid-enforced break - they have not been able to back that up on their travels in games at Stoke and Sheffield United.
The head coach and his squad have made clear they are aware those showings in the Potteries and south Yorkshire were nowhere near the standard required, and they will be looking to produce an improved performance against the Baggies.
The Swans won the reverse fixture on home turf back in October, and the west Midlands side have had a difficult run recently.
Steve Bruce is early in his tenure as boss, but has not been shy of talking up the significance of this game for his side’s play-off hopes, after falling away from the top six into mid-table.
Kyle Naughton and Hannes Wolf are back in training following their thigh and hamstring problems respectively.
Naughton has not featured since the home defeat to Luton, while Wolf sat out last weekend’s defeat at Sheffield United.
Nathanael Obgeta remains absent with a hamstring problem, but should play a part in full training in the coming week.
Russell Martin: “They are going through a transition with a new manager. They had a really clear way of doing things before and that didn’t go to plan, so they have changed things.
“They are trying to find the best way for them, but what I would say is they have an incredibly talented squad that was playing in the Premier League this time last season.
“It is a tough challenge, but I think it is a really exciting one. It is one that we must be excited about and not go there with any fear.
“That is easy to say after we have been beaten 4-0, but we have to go with a certain mentality to try and be the team that we want to be.
“We have certainly worked on some stuff around the way that they have been doing things and how we can maximise our opportunities.
“They have an extremely experienced manager who has been promoted out of the league.
“Steve (Bruce) is someone who I think every manager will say they have a lot of time and respect for.
“We will go there with the aim of putting in a performance to be proud of and one that the supporters can be proud of.
“I think if we put in a performance that we are happy with then the result will hopefully reflect that.”
Steve Bruce: “We halt this run which we find ourselves on by winning on Monday night against Swansea City. It’s quite straightforward.
“I share the supporters’ disappointment of recent results. You normally get a bounce when a new manager comes in.
“There have been games where I’ve been pleased for chunks of it, an hour the other night at Middlesbrough for example.
“We have to address the run we’re having and the only way to do that is by winning on Monday night. The game has become hugely important to us, I can’t stress that enough.
“The best way to reverse low confidence levels are by reversing the results. Unfortunately in the first few weeks, we haven’t been able to do that.
“We have to stick with it and believe in what we are doing. We’ve implemented a change and I think the players are enjoying the change.”
Remember the last time?
Swansea City’s unbeaten away run came to an end as ruthless West Brom finishing sent the Baggies back to the top of the Championship.
The visitors had started brightly enough but found themselves 2-0 down as Semi Ajayi headed in the opener and the excellent Matheus Pereira steered in to double Albion’s lead.
Sam Surridge’s sixth goal of the season had provided hope of a comeback, but when Swansea gifted Hal Robson-Kanu the home side’s third before the break the writing was on the wall.
Matt Phillips scored the fourth from a delightful Pereira cross, as Swansea were carved open on the counter, before Kyle Edwards fired home the fifth to cap a miserable day for the visitors.
It was the first time the Swans had conceded five in a game since a 5-0 defeat at Manchester City in April 2018, and their heaviest defeat at The Hawthorns since 1929.
19 – The Swans have won 19 of their 56 meetings with the Baggies, drawing another 10 in what has proved an evenly-balanced fixture over its 95-year history.
3128 – Matt Grimes has completed 3,128 passes this season, the most in the Championship. The next best tally is over 700 fewer at 2,420.