ANOTHER round of international fixtures is over and normal service is resumed in the Barclays Premier League this weekend, with Albion travelling to the Britannia Stadium to face Stoke (ko 3pm), and the guys over at WhoScored.com have taken the time to look over the statistics ahead of the clash.
Baggies head coach Steve Clarke will be hoping the break in fixtures will not disrupt an impressive period of form for his team.
While City are one of the out-of-form sides having lost their last three matches. Albion were in fine fettle before World Cup qualifying action interrupted their flow.
The Baggies' four-game unbeaten run is second only to league leaders Arsenal in terms of the best current streaks of form in England’s top flight and at the heart of that is a solid defensive line that has proved the basis for a fantastic run of results.
All four of Albion’s first-choice back-four have remained ever-present this season and that consistency has benefited the team no end.
The players have developed a good understanding of each other having played most of last season together as well as a small proportion of the season before.
Everton are the only other team to have an ever-present backline this term, but their nine goals conceded puts them some way behind the Baggies in these standings.
Only five teams - including four of the top six - can boast a better defensive record in the Barclays Premier League this season than the Baggies, who have already played some incredibly difficult matches and come away with positive results at Old Trafford, Goodison Park and most recently at home to Arsenal.
Stand-in skipper Jonas Olsson has been key, marshalling his troops effectively from centre-back.
The Swede's performances have earned him an impressive average WhoScored rating of 7.15, which ranks him behind only Morgan Amalfitano (7.76) and Ben Foster (7.5), both of whom have kept up their ratings over fewer appearances.
Now in his sixth season at the club, Olsson's commitment to the cause is unwavering and his importance to the club is now unquestionable.
His 77 clearances is more than any other player in the Barclays Premier League this season and it is no coincidence he has been performing so well and opponents have found the Baggies so difficult to break down.
Alongside Olsson, Gareth McAuley has been imperious, letting little past him but also scoring the goal that kick-started his team's scoring streak with a last-gasp header at Fulham.
This weekend will be tough for Clarke's men, at a ground where Stoke have only conceded twice this season, but at the same time they have only scored two goals, giving them the worst goals-for tally at home in the Premier League.
Recent results at the Britannia between the sides also bode well for the visitors, who have not lost there since 2008, conceding only twice in those matches.
A goalless draw in this fixture back in March - in which the Potters were restricted to just a single shot on target - could set the tone for this weekend, and the Baggies should be confident of extending their impressive run of form.
*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)
The Baggies are unbeaten in their last three visits to the Britannia Stadium.
Albion defeated Stoke 2-0 at The Victoria Ground on the first weekend of Football League fixtures back in September 1888 - just over 125 years ago. Joe Wilson and George Woodhall were on the scoresheet as the Baggies registered the first clean sheet in Football League history.
Joint-assistant head coach Kevin Keen scored 12 goals in 201 appearances for the Potters between 1994 and 2000.
City have not lost four successive Barclays Premier League games since November 2011.
The Baggies have not gone five Barclays Premier League games unbeaten during Steve Clarke's tenure.
Last time out
HOME: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, December 1, 2012, Albion 0 Stoke 1 (Whitehead 75)
AWAY: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, March 16, 2013, Stoke 0 Albion 0
Form guide (last six league matches)
Last league match line-ups
ALBION (v Arsenal – home D 1-1): Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu; Amalfitano (Brunt 89), Sessegnon (Morrison 78), Berahino; Anelka (Long 69). Subs not used: L Daniels (gk), Popov, Lugano, Rosenberg.
STOKE (v Fulham - away L 1-0): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; N'Zonzi, Wilson (Whelan 59), Walters (Crouch 84), Ireland, Etherington (Assaidi 63); Arnautovic. Subs not used: Sorensen (gk); Adam, Kenwyne Jones, Palacios.
Stoke team news
Jonathan Walters is expected to be available after shaking off a groin injury he picked up at Fulham a fortnight ago.
Howard Webb will referee Saturday’s game. The South Yorkshire official last oversaw the Baggies in their 2-1 defeat by Arsenal in April. Webb has dished out 25 yellow and no red cards in nine games this term.
Selected odds from Sky Bet:
Albion to win: 9/4
Stoke to win: 5/4
Saido Berahino to score first: 9/1
Marko Arnautovic to score first: 7/1
If you fancy a flutter with the club's official online betting partner, click here
Tickets for Albion’s trip to Stoke on Saturday will remain on general sale at The Hawthorns’ East Stand box office until 1pm on Friday.
No tickets will be available to Baggies fans at the Britannia Stadium on the day of the game.
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