Writer: Lord Shepherd
Date:Saturday January 24 2009
24 January 2009
This week's almost heroes, Burnley, visit the Hawthorns for this afternoon's FA Cup fourth round clash.
Burnley put in a tremendous performance against a Spurs side that was 4-1 up following the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final to take the tie into extra-time with a 3-0 victory. Unfortunately, they couldn't make it to Wembley and big spending Spurs progressed instead. However, Burnley did enough in the games against Spurs to suggest that they will give West Brom a tough test.
West Brom will be under strength and will only be able to field an unfamiliar back four that admittedly did well when thrown together for the Middlesbrough game. From the Baggies' fans perspective they would hope that the valiant Burnley team are jaded and their own makeshift team can make it through.
Albion's main focus this season has to be Premier League survival and Tony Mowbray will have half an eye on the home game against Man Utd on Tuesday night but an FA Cup run could prove the catalyst to ensuring that the club has at least one more year in the Premier League.
Speaking about today's game Tony Mowbray said 'I've got an eighth of an eye on Tuesday maybe but that's all. I'll just try and pick a team to win this game with Burnley and then worry about Tuesday when it comes around.'
On today's opponents he said: 'Is it good time to play Burnley? I don't ever like to say it is a good time to do this or that. I should talk about the quality they possessed in beating Arsenal, Chelsea and Fulham and going so close to beating Tottenham.
'They've hit a bit of a sticky patch in the league and maybe there is a case for saying the cup football is catching up with them a little bit.
'But I think sometimes, in the perceived adversity of having too many games, teams can rally around and keep going.'
'They might see the FA Cup as a shot for nothing. It is not league points and they can come here and have a go and play their open, attractive football and see how they get on.
'With the way they play, I can see it being a bit like Middlesbrough last week, of them having a fair bit of the ball. I don't think it is going to be a case of us dominating possession too much.'
'Technically when they have got the ball, they don't give it back very quickly.'
Mowbray has a great deal of respect for the Clarets manager, Owen Coyle.
He said: 'Owen is a football man. He preaches a similar philosophy of playing and likes technical players, the likes of Robbie Blake and Chris Eagles. They are talented, techincal footballers'.
'I like his teams and I played a lot against Owen up in Scotland. I was at Celtic and he was a busy hard workmanlike footballer who would never give you a minute and yet as a coach I see similar traits'.
'Whenever I go to a football match, Owen seems to be there and always chatting. He clearly loves football and his teams reflect that.'
It would seem easier to name the players that are fit rather than those that are not as the Baggies have to contend with their worst injury crisis for many years. The players out are Jonas Olsson, Gianni Zuiverloon, Abdoulaye Meite, Leon Barnett, Neil Clement, James Morrison, Ishmael Miller and Luke Moore.
Pele is likely to partner Ryan Donk at the centre of defence and Carl Hoefkins will continue at right back. Felipe Teixeira is likely to get another start after his long injury lay off and Roman Bednar could return following his suspension. However, expect Fortune and Simpson to be allowed to develop their promising partnership after being thrown together for the first time last Saturday.
After failing to score with a couple of decent chances against Middlesbrough Simpson will be eager to get off the mark on his new home ground.
Stephen Jordan is missing for Burnley following his knee ligament injury. Stephen Caldwell returns following his suspension and Steve Thompson is also available after missing the game against Tottenham after being cup tied.
Robbie Blake has the ability to do the unexpected and his trickery could well be the undoing of the Baggies inexperienced centre back pairing.
3-2 to the Baggies
Premier League leaders Man Utd visit the Hawthorns for a 7.45 pm kick off.
Date:Saturday January 24 2009
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