Saturday’s clash between West Bromwich Albion and Manchester City pits two vastly different styles of play together and will be the first time that Pep Guardiola has faced Tony Pulis.
Pulis is best known for his Stoke City days of long balls and throw-ins, as well as Premier League solidarity, but has a huge task at hand when his West Brom side welcome the league leaders to the Hawthorns. It promises to be an intriguing clash; the direct, defensively rigid style of the Welshman will try to negate the free-flowing, expressive and intricate play of Guardiola’s side.
Manchester City come into this game in an average run of form, or extremely poor if you were to judge their recent performances by the same standard that Guardiola would expect from his side, yet they still sit at the top of the table. Meanwhile, West Brom are without a win since late September, when they battered West Ham 4-2 at home.
Manchester City will undergo late fitness tests on Kevin De Bruyne and Pablo Zabaleta, though with one eye on the upcoming home game against Barcelona in the Champions League, Guardiola might be conservative when considering their availability for Saturday. Fabian Delph and Bacary Sagna continue to miss out, while Vincent Kompany is available for selection having made his first league start for the club this season in last week’s draw with Southampton.
The Baggies are without the services of Claudio Yacob, the Argentine accumulating five yellow cards and serving a one match ban, while Jonny Evans returns after serving a one match ban for the same reason. Saido Berahino continues to fight for fitness and a spot back in the side; the English striker has started just the three games in the league, scoring no goals, and looks unlikely to feature in Pulis’ match day squad as a result of his lack of fitness.
Victory for Manchester City would be the tenth in a row against West Brom in the league, the Baggies closing in on 10 years since they last beat City in the league; goals from Luke Moore and Roman Bednar sent them to a 2-0 win in December 2008. History suggests backing a Manchester City win is the only option, though West Brom are no pushovers and are deadly from set-pieces; seven of West Brom’s 10 league goals this season have come from set-pieces, five being corners, proving how difficult of a side they are to play against.
We’re backing Pep Guardiola to shrug off his run of six games without a win and get back to winning ways at the Hawthorns, though not without a fight from the home side. The visitors need a confidence boost heading into their mid-week tie with Barcelona, and we’re predicting them to have a little too much for Pulis’ side on the day. If you feel like having a bet on the game, then be sure to find the best English Premier League betting odds at William Hill.