West Brom open their Premier League campaign against Crystal Palace this weekend, could this be their starting XI?
West Brom manager Tony Pulis before the match
West Bromwich Albion start their Premier League campaign with a trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday, as they will be looking to get their season off to the best possible start.
With the visit of an Everton side under new management to follow, what is the likely team that will start their Premier League campaign? Here is a possible XI they could go with...
The 33-year-old is a Premier League stalwart and, on his day, is a fantastic goalkeeper. He has had his injury problems recently, but a return to number one is always likely once he is available. A very accomplished shot stopper and hugely experienced in a career that has seen him play for Manchester United, Watford and Birmingham, he is nearing his 100th cap as a permanent member of the West Brom team. While he has seen his fair share of errors like any goalkeeper, Foster will be vital in Albion’s Premier League campaign.
Jonny Evans, Gareth McAuley, Jonas Olsson and Craig Dawson
West Bromwich Albion's Jonas Olsson
A defence that boasts over 500 combined appearances for the Baggies. It is a team of exceptional experience, but ageing legs. This is a back-four that is quite literally huge. No player stands at under 6 feet tall, meaning that West Brom will be very adept at dealing with crosses into the box from both corners and open play. Where they will struggle though, is when a team attacks their flanks. Neither Evans nor Dawson are blessed with scintillating pace and so, if a player with exceptional speed is running at them, then West Brom could be in a lot of trouble.
Matt Phillips, Darren Fletcher, James Morrison and James McClean
QPR's Matt Phillips celebrates scoring their first goal
Manager Tony Pulis may elect to play a standard 4-4-2 this season with Fletcher and Morrison sitting in front of the defence. This combination allows them both to shield their back four while allowing Fletcher, with all his experience, to focus on trying to dictate play with his passing in conjunction with the non-stop efforts of Morrison next to him, thus making West Brom a difficult team to break down.
Phillips, who joined from Queens Park Rangers this summer is likely to play on the opposite side to James McClean, with both players adding speed and width to the Albion team, culminating in them feeding the ball into their strikers in and around the box. Phillips in particular is an exciting prospect, scoring 14 goals in his 90 appearances which spanned over three years, his quick feet and skill moves make him a very dangerous player when in full flow.
Saido Berahino and Salomon Rondon
West Bromwich Albion's Saido Berahino in action
The two men tasked with scoring the goals for West Brom this season. While Berahino has been almost constantly linked with a move away, a player of his ability must be utilised if available. All this speculation seems to have impacted his game hugely, scoring a mere four goals in 31 appearances last season in comparison to 14 goals in 38 the season before. Both Pulis and Berahino will be hoping the new season brings renewed fortunes.
Rondon will be looking for an improvement on last campaign too, scoring an underwhelming nine goals in 34 appearances. Together, the two are able to add two different styles to the West Brom attack. Berahino is quick and tricky on the ball while Rondon is a powerful player, most dangerous in the six-yard box or getting on the end of a cross. With only Rickie Lambert an alternative for Pulis, it seems very likely the two will get the chance to improve upon last season's performances.