THE final game of a long season is finally upon as, and as has been the case all season, we have another statistical preview here from the guys over at WhoScored.com
It has been a mixed campaign for the Baggies, in which draws have all too infrequently been turned into victories, and that has been the difference between a relegation battle and last season's eighth-placed finish.
In fact, Albion have drawn at least four more Premier League games (15) than any other team in the current campaign, and have suffered three fewer losses (15) than any other side in the bottom half of the table.
Recent stalemates against Tottenham and Cardiff, when wins should probably have been secured, epitomise the Baggies' shortcomings, though hard-fought wins over Swansea and West Ham have shown an increasing maturity among Pepe Mel's men.
This weekend, a point at home to Stoke would guarantee Albion are not relying on goal difference for their Premier League status.
Given the Baggies have lost only one of their last ten home Premier League games, there is good reason to believe that point will be obtained.
Albion have not conceded to Stoke in their last two meetings - both of which ended 0-0 - while the Potters have netted only 16 times in 18 away Premier League games this season, giving them the fifth-worst goalscoring record on the road over the current campaign.
Mark Hughes' side have won only two away games all season and their tally of 11 points on the road is the third worst in the league.
Gareth McAuley has had another impressive season at the back for Albion, and he has been the team's best-performing player according to WhoScored.com, maintaining an average rating of 7.12 across his 31 appearances.
The team as a whole have averaged 6.74 across the campaign, ranking them 14th in England’s top-flight, which is arguably a better reflection of the team's performances than the 17th place they occupy in the table at present.
Form suggests this weekend should produce another positive result on home soil for Mel's side, before attention can turn to building for next season and another Premier League season.
*WhoScored.com is a unique website and one of the fastest growing in the sports industry, specialising in the in-depth analysis of detailed football data. Provided with unique stats, they compile and create comprehensive analysis on the major European divisions, including live match stats and player ratings. Follow @WhoScored and their editor-in-chief @alitweedale on Twitter. All-time results record (League, FA Cup and League Cup)
Depending on results on the final day, Albion could finish the season as high as 14th or as low as 17th in the Barclays Premier League table.
Stoke are set to finish in the top ten of the Premier League for the first time in their history, while they could even finish as high as ninth.
Any points return for the Potters would see them set a record haul in the Premier League, with the Staffordshire club currently equalling their best-ever total of 47.
The last two meetings between Albion and Stoke have both finished goalless, while their nine Premier League meetings to date have produced just 13 goals.
The Baggies have won a mere two of the last 32 league encounters between the clubs and have registered one victory (in 2003) in this fixture at The Hawthorns since 1988.
Last time out
HOME: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, December 1, 2012, Albion 0 Stoke 1 (Whitehead 75)
AWAY: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, October 19, 2013, Stoke 0 Albion 0
Form guide (last six league matches)
Last league match line-ups
ALBION (v Sunderland – away L 2-0): Foster, Reid (Dawson 45), McAuley, Lugano, Brunt, Dorrans, Morrison, Yacob (Mulumbu 45), Sessegnon, Berahino (Vydra 78), Anichebe, Subs not used: Myhill (gk), O'Neil, Sinclair, Olsson.
STOKE (v Fulham – home W 4-1): Begovic, Muniesa, Cameron, Wilson, Pieters, N'Zonzi, Whelan, Arnautovic, Ireland (Adam 70), Assaidi (Etherington 75), Odemwingie (Walters 78). Subs not used: Sorensen (gk), Wilkinson, Palacios, Crouch.
Stoke team news
Oussama Assaidi is likely to be the only player unavailable to Potters boss Mark Hughes as he struggles with a knee injury. Captain Ryan Shawcross returns having served a one-match suspension.
Lee Probert will referee Sunday's game. The Wiltshire official last oversaw the Baggies in their 1-1 draw at Fulham in mid-September. He has dished out 32 yellow cards and two red in 20 games this term.
Selected odds from Sky Bet:
Albion to win: 21/20
Stoke to win: 5/2
Saido Berahino to score first: 6/1
Peter Odemwingie to score first: 6/1
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