West Brom away - that fixture we all look for when the fixture list is released. I'm just kidding, it isn't. Visiting The Hawthorns is like visiting the dentist; something that just has to be done.
It was all going wrong for them a few weeks ago and I had a cheeky thought that they might be relegated. I didn't want them to be relegated, I want as many, not all, but most local teams to be playing in the Premier League and they are one that I'd like to stay up and I'm glad the appointment of Roy Hodgson looks to have made that happen.
Stan Collymore first
Before I look at the match though, what I've just written has reminded me of something. I was listening to TalkSport the other night - don't ask me why, it was a mistake, but when I flipped it on, Stan Collymore was talking and I quite like Stan. Yes, TalkSport is the station for him, but he does talk some sense.
Actually, he can talk an awful lot of sense and take him away from TalkSport could be the making of him, but I think he likes the role he plays on the station, but he did say something I completely disagreed with the other night, so I'm going to ask you what you think.
He said something along the lines of 'Aston Villa fans will be cheering on The Clowns (he didn't use that term) in the Europa League next season' because country comes before club in European competition. At the time I thought he had maybe just had one Stella too many, but he went on with it and he firmly believes it.
I don't. I disagree with him 100%. Sure, I wanted Manchester United to win the other night and I want West Brom to stay up, much like I'd like Wolves too to, but I won't be cheering on The Clowns in Europe next season. I also don't West Brom to win on Saturday, I want them to be spanked and if The Clowns stayed up wit wouldn't bother me, but if they were relegated, it would put a smile on my face.
Now, this isn't about staying up or going down, this is; will you be cheering on The Clowns in Europe next season. Stan Collymore thinks you will?
Mini match preview: West Brom
When Liverpool appointed Roy Hodgson, I think it went wrong because most of the players were expecting a different calibre of manager. For the record, I've always thought very highly of him, but I think the Liverpool players were a little surprised they didn't get a bigger name.
It went wrong for him at Liverpool, in my humble opinion, because the players expected more and probably felt deflated by his appointment and initial signings.
It went well for Hodgson at Fulham and it is at West Brom, because I think those players are excited by the change in management style and they had nothing to lose in listening to what he had to say, trying it out and seeing what happened. Good results breed confidence and more belief.
The table speaks for itself too. West Brom are currently fifth in the current form table and when Hodgson took over they were 17th with 26 points in the full table. They are now 14th, probably safe and have taken fourteen points from their last nine games.
My point is; West Brom is going to be a tough match. Three points for either side could put them into the top half and maybe not mathematically secure Premier League status for next season, you'd put your mortgage on them staying up then. It is an important match and one that both teams are going to want to win.
Last time out, against Stoke, was always going to be a strange game. The news was still sinking in about Houllier and all things considered, to get a point was not such a bad result, but yes, for Proxopera, the performance wasn't great, but look at what happened just before.
However, they are all professionals and the news has had time to sink in and they would have compartmentalised it and put it into perspective. This match should be different and if they put in another poor performance, there is no excuse for me to fall back on.
I just hope the manager sends an SMS to most of the players and he gets them fired up for the match. We don't need to win, but a win would make my weekend, probably yours too.
Don't expect many changes, but do expect a different performance form last time out and if like me, you're a fool with money, have a cheeky fiver on an away win. That is my prediction.
Best match odds
Head to head
I'm adding this last section after the post went up, but West Brom have never beaten us in the Premier League. We have played nine times and we have picked up nineteen points while West Brom have picked up four.
The last time they did actually beat us was in April 1985; 1-0 in the old First Division at their place. Naturally, I could have gotten all that wrong, but I think it is right.