Match Previews

Albion v Blues match preview

19th June

Slaven Bilić’s Baggies will return to Sky Bet Championship action on Saturday when Birmingham City visit The Hawthorns (ko 3pm).

Birmingham

Their last outing

In their most recent game, Blues fell to a 3-1 home defeat against Reading.

Scott Hogan handed the home side the lead early on, but the Royals fought back after the break.

Matt Miazga volleyed in an equaliser for the visitors, and Yakou Meïté headed in a John Swift free-kick to put Reading ahead before the hour mark.

With little time left to play, Pelé curled in from the edge of the box for Reading to secure all three points for the away side.

BLUES: Camp; Pederson, Roberts, Colin, Dean; Crowley, Gardner, Sunjic (Kieftenbeld 84), Bellingham (Mrabti 72); Jutkiewicz, Hogan.

Substitutes: C Trueman, W Harding, J Clarke-Salter, Boyd-Munce, J Montero.

In the dugout

During the season's hiatus, Blues announced Pep Clotet would be stepping down from his role as head coach at the end of the current campaign.

Clotet has been a manager or coach since 2001, taking on a variety of jobs around Europe before arriving at Swansea City as an academy consultant under Michael Laudrup, but was promoted to assistant manager when Garry Monk took charge.

Since then, Pep has followed Monk to Leeds United, had a six-month spell in charge of Oxford United, reunited himself with Monk at Birmingham City and then become caretaker manager at the club in the summer - and was named head coach at the beginning of December.

Under Clotet’s guidance, Blues are currently 16th in the Championship.

One to watch

Albion will need to be wary of free-scoring Scott Hogan on Saturday. The striker, who is on loan from rivals Aston Villa, had netted seven goals in his last eight league games.

After progressing up the pyramid from non-league football, Hogan signed for Rochdale. His impressive goalscoring record rewarded him with a move to Brentford, and after another commendable stint in front of goal he was signed by Aston Villa.

Since then, Hogan has had loan spells with Sheffield United, Stoke City and Birmingham.

Our last meeting

Charlie Austin stepped off the bench to bag a dramatic brace as Albion twice came from behind to secure a thrilling 3-2 derby victory in the most recent meeting between the Baggies and Blues.

Grady Diangana netted to quickly cancel out Lukas Jutkiewicz's third-minute header amid a frenetic start at a windy St Andrew’s. Blues restored their advantage just minutes after the interval courtesy of Harlee Dean's header.

But it was substitute Austin who made the decisive impact, levelling matters in the 73rd minute with a superb first-time finish from 20 yards shortly after his introduction.

And it was the Baggies forward who completed the turnaround with a headed goal in the 81st-minute, sending the 2,768 travelling Albion fans into raptures.

The most recent game between the two sides at The Hawthorns was also settled with a 3-2 scoreline, with Albion the triumphant side on home turf.

Stats

Albion

• Slaven Bilić’s men have kept five clean sheets in their last eight league games.

• Albion are joint-top scorers in the Championship, having fired in 64 goals. Brentford are the other team to have scored 64 times.

• The Baggies have beaten Blues 3-2 on the last two meetings between the two sides.

Blues

• In the last seven meetings against Albion, Blues haven’t won any of the games (P7, W0, D2, L5) - with their most recent victory against the Baggies in October 2006.

• Pep Clotet’s men had gone 10 games unbeaten in the league prior to their 3-1 home defeat against Reading in their most recent game.

• However, Blues hadn’t won in their last five league games (P5, W0, D4, L1) before the season was suspended.

Head to head

 

Albion wins

Draws

Blues wins

League

51

34

34

FA Cup

7

1

1

League Cup

1

1

0

Total

59

36

35

Our man to watch

Semi Ajayi has been a vital player at the heart of the Albion defence this season. The Nigerian centre-half has netted five goals this term, and had also kept five clean sheets in the last eight league games he has played in.

With Semi on the pitch, the Baggies have conceded just one goal in their last four games.

Best of social

Follow the game

Season ticket holders who have claimed an iFollow code as their refund alternative option can watch the game live by visiting our Match Centre and clicking 'Watch Now'. Supporters are urged to log in to their account and redeem the code which has been sent to them as soon as possible and not wait until Saturday.

If supporters have any issues accessing their accounts or the stream, please contact ifollow@efl.com.

The game is not available to watch with a match pass for non season ticket holders, but they can purchase an audio pass for £2.50.

Supporters can find the latest iFollow information here.

Comprehensive coverage of the clash with Blues is also available in our Match Centre, where you can listen to live commentary on WBA Radio or follow our live text feed.

WBA Radio is the only service that allows Baggies fans around the world - from Smethwick to the Sahara - access to uninterrupted live commentaries from every one of our competitive games. iFollow subscribers can join Gez Mulholland and Andy Johnson for Baggies-biased live commentary on Saturday.

International supporters who have an iFollow subscription may be able to live stream the game depending on where they are located around the world. To find out, click here.

You’ll also be able to find score updates on the club's social media channels.

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