TOMORROW’S clash with West Ham (ko 3pm) represents another huge game in the bottom half of the Premier League and ahead of the game, the guys over at football stats website WhoScored.com
have crunched the numbers.
The Hawthorns has proved one of the most difficult Barclays Premier League grounds to visit this season, with only the top five teams and Stoke having lost fewer home games.
The Baggies have lost just one of their last nine home games in the league and will once again be confident this weekend, having seen off some of the top teams in England during that run.
Consecutive 3-3 draws against Cardiff and Tottenham have been disappointing given the circumstances in which they were obtained, but plenty of positives, including Albion's lethal streak in front of goal, should be taken from the results.
West Ham's away record has left a lot to be desired; they have won just four of their 17 games on the road all season, netting a meagre 15 goals.
They have also lost three of their last four away matches.
While Albion's attack have been producing plenty of goals of late, the defence has been far too shaky.
The return to action of Billy Jones will have buoyed the squad, not only because the marauding right-back adds yet another element to the Baggies' attack, but also because they boast a significantly more solid defence with the former Preston man playing.
That he couldn't help stop the Manchester City juggernaut at the Etihad on Monday deserves no criticism, but the ease with which he found his feet in his first appearance in two months was certainly credible.
Only goalscorer Graham Dorrans (8.0) rated higher for the Baggies on WhoScored.com in the encounter than Jones (6.92), with the right-back quickly settling in despite the tricky surroundings.
Albion have conceded an average of 1.35 goals per game in Premier League games with Jones starting this season, compared to 1.93 in matches without him.
Having shipped nine goals in their last three outings on home soil, Pepe Mel will be glad to have Jones back and available to help shore things up.
His strongest asset according to WhoScored.com's statistically calculated characteristics is his blocking of the ball.
He is quick, agile, positionally aware, and has a reading of the game that means he can get out to opponents quickly and prevent shots and crosses.
In fact, despite missing a large chunk of games, only one teammate has blocked more crosses in Premier League matches this season than Jones (13), while he ranks fourth in the squad for shots blocked (11).
With other strengths of 'dribbling' and 'concentration', Jones will be a vital addition to the team when West Ham come to play, both in an attacking and defensive sense.
Albion do not lose many games at home, and Jones will be key to extending that run and possibly even contributing to a crucial win.
*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)
West Ham have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last nine league games - the longest current run in the Barclays Premier League.
Five of the last six meetings between Albion and West Ham have finished all square.
Chris Brunt's first-ever Premier League goal was the winner in a 3-2 home win over West Ham in 2008.
The Baggies have drawn six of their last seven home matches at The Hawthorns.
West Ham have not drawn any of their previous 12 games since a goalless draw at Chelsea in late January, with their last score draw being the 3-3 encounter against Albion at Upton Park towards the end of December.
Albion have won one of their last ten Premier League meetings with the Hammers, drawing five and losing four.
Last time out
HOME: Barclays Premier League, Sunday, December 16, 2012, Albion 0 West Ham 0
AWAY: Barclays Premier League, Saturday, December 28, 2013, West Ham 3 (Cole 4, Maiga 65, Nolan 67) Albion 3 (Anelka 40, 45, Berahino 69)
Form guide (last six league matches)
WEST HAM: LWWLLL
Last league match line-ups
ALBION (v Man City – away L 3-1): Foster, Dawson, Olsson, Ridgewell, Jones, Brunt, Mulumbu (Morrison 84), Amalfitano, Dorrans, Sessegnon (Berahino 76), Vydra (Anichebe 60). Subs not used: Myhill (gk), Reid, Yacob, Lugano
WEST HAM (v Crystal Palace – home L 1-0): Adrián, Tomkins, Armero, Reid, McCartney, Diamé, Nolan (Nocerino 85), Noble, Carroll, Jarvis (Carlton Cole 70), Downing (Joe Cole 78). Subs not used: Jaaskelainen (gk), O'Brien, Johnson, Taylor
West Ham team news
Matt Taylor is likely to be unavailable due to family reasons while Marco Borriello (calf) remains sidelined.
Mike Dean will referee Saturday's game. The Wirral official last oversaw the Baggies in their 1-1 draw at home to Fulham towards the end of February. He has dished out 95 yellow cards and five red in 24 games this term.
Selected odds from Sky Bet:
Albion to win: 10/11
West Ham to win: 14/5
Matej Vydra to score first: 6/1
Andy Carroll to score first: 7/1
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