Stoke City-West Brom Preview
LONDON (SE) - West Bromwich Albion will be looking to get back to winning ways as they welcome Stoke City to the Hawthorns on Saturday afternoon.
West Brom have enjoyed a superb start to the season, and remain in the top four of the Premier League despite a 3-1 defeat at Swansea on Wednesday evening. Despite their disappointing midweek performance, Baggies defender Liam Ridgewell insisted that the players weren't complacent.
"You read things and sometimes people believe their own hype and that's when people can become unstuck," Ridgewell said. "Our main objective is to be here next season. We know we're a good team but we don't listen to anything other people say. We know what we're about and our own aims within the club. We don't listen to anyone outside of the club. We will carry on doing what we have got to do. What we have to do is make sure we stay in the league for next year.
"We have done very well at the moment but we've only had a quarter of the season. We want to put this behind us and we've got a big game against Stoke at the weekend. A lot has been talked about us and we know what we're about. We have got to get back on what we want to do and get back at it in the Stoke game. We've done so well so we can't think we're a bad team overnight. We're not, we're a good side and, hopefully, we can show it on Saturday."
West Brom (8-2-4) remain without Ben Foster (groin) and Steven Reid (hamstring). Shane Long will expect to return to the starting lineup, while Steve Clarke may look to get more creativity in his side by bringing back Zoltan Gera. Romelu Lukaku's goal-scoring display in the defeat to Swansea should secure him some playing time.
Stoke City are up to ninth after a 2-1 comeback win over Newcastle in midweek - a result that means they have taken 10 points from their last four league games. However, the Potters (4-7-3) are yet to win away from home, scoring just six goals on the road.
The visitors have doubts over Peter Crouch, who lost a couple of teeth following a collision with Fabricio Coloccini, Andy Wilkinson (back) and Michael Owen (hamstring), while Rory Delap (hernia) and Marc Wilson (broken leg) are out. Manager Tony Pulis is likely to consider changes in attack, where Kenwyne Jones and Cameron Jerome will be pushing for starts following their game-changing impact against Newcastle on Wednesday night.
"When they came on, they really put us on top," enthused goalkeeper Asmir Begovic about the two substitutes. "The guys have been chomping at the bit to get their chance, and they proved they want to be in the team. They weren't sulking. They were just helping us get the result. Cameron has been fantastic. He has always been an impact player ever since he came here. It's nice for him to have a chance.
"We are getting the results now that our performances deserve. It's been nice to be able to push up that table and look up rather than down."
The Baggies have failed to win this fixture since Stoke gained promotion to the Premier League in 2006. There has been one draw in the run of five matches, with Stoke winning the other four by a 9-1 aggregate.
Last season's meeting at the Hawthorns ended 1-0 to the Potters, with Ryan Shotton scoring the only goal a minute from time. However, the Baggies scored a last-minute winner of their own in the return fixture at the Britannia.