Club News

The lowdown on Albion's Premier League opponents: Part One

2nd September

As the Premier League season approaches for Slaven Bilić's Baggies, learn more about some of the teams they will face in the top flight this season.

Here is a rundown of every Premier League side's boss, how they fared in 2019/20, their key man and a memorable encounter against Albion.

First up, in alphabetical order; the Gunners.

Arsenal

The gaffer…

After hanging up his boots, in July 2016, Mikel Arteta became Pep Guardiola’s assistant coach at Manchester City. The former Arsenal player won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and two EFL Cups in his time with the Citizens, and took the role of Head Coach at the Emirates Stadium in December 2019.

Last season…

Arsenal’s most-recent campaign saw them achieve their lowest-placed finish since the 1994/95 season. However, they tasted Emirates FA Cup success, winning the competition for a record 14th time. In the process, Arteta became the first person to win the FA Cup as both captain and manager of Arsenal. The Londoners started this season with more silverware, picking up the 2020 FA Community Shield thanks to a shoot-out victory over Liverpool.

Star man…

Arteta has a host of talented players at his disposal, such as exciting youngster Bukayo Saka, newly-signed Brazilian winger Willian and club-record signing Nicolas Pepe. However, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is clearly a key man for the Gunners. 

The Gabon international, who joined from Dortmund in January 2018, netted 29 goals in 44 games in all competitions last term. He was equally as impressive in his first full season at the club, scoring 32 times in 53 games. Aubameyang is recognised as one of the sharpest strikers in world football and will have his sights set on another fruitful campaign in front of goal in 2020/21.

Memorable clash…

Albion’s first time winning at the Emirates Stadium. The Baggies went three ahead before managing to cling on for a 3-2 victory. Here’s Jerome Thomas scoring the third:

𝙋𝙧𝙚𝙢𝙞𝙚𝙧 𝙇𝙚𝙖𝙜𝙪𝙚 𝙂𝙤𝙖𝙡 𝙤𝙛 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝘿𝙖𝙮 ⚽️

What an away day this was. @jeromethomas14 put us three goals ahead at the Emirates Stadium in 2010. 😎 pic.twitter.com/TEW7kh80GH

— West Bromwich Albion (@WBA) August 30, 2020

Aston Villa

The gaffer…

Dean Smith played most of his football for Walsall, Hereford United and Leyton Orient before stepping into football management with the Saddlers. After four seasons at the Banks's Stadium, he moved on to Brentford and again impressed, earning him a move to his boyhood club, Aston Villa. In his first season at Villa Park he secured promotion to the Premier League via the Play-Offs. Smith, from Great Barr, then managed to keep Villa in the Premier League after finishing 17th in the club's first season back in the top flight following a three-year exodus.

Last season…

In their first campaign back in the Premier League, Villa finished 17th, surviving relegation by a point. Dean Smith’s men picked up eight points in their last five games to climb out of the bottom three and relegate Bournemouth, Watford and Norwich.

Star man…

Jack Grealish has recently been called up to the England senior squad for the first time. The 24-year-old played a key role in Villa’s survival last term, scoring eight times in the Premier League, including a crucial strike on the final day against West Ham.

Memorable clash…

In April 2011, Albion beat Villa 2-1 at The Hawthorns. The visitors took the lead early on when Abdoulaye Meite accidentally turned the ball into his own net. But the Baggies struck back on the hour, as Peter Odemwingie levelled. However, there would be more drama two minutes later when Albion were reduced to ten men as Paul Scharner was given his marching orders.

Yet there would be one final twist in the tale. In the last ten minutes, Youssouf Mulumbu raced through on goal and chipped over Brad Friedel to spark scenes of jubilation in the Brummie Road end.

Brighton

The gaffer…

Former Albion player Graham Potter is Brighton’s boss. Potter spent eight seasons with Swedish side Östersunds FK, taking them from the fourth tier to a fifth-placed finish in the top-flight alongside a monumental effort in the Europa League which saw them reach the last 32, only to lose on aggregate to Arsenal, despite a 2-1 win at the Emirates Stadium.

Potter’s next move would be back into the English game, taking charge of Swansea City. He spent one season with the Swans, finishing 10th in the Sky Bet Championship and reaching the FA Cup quarter-finals, before moving on to Brighton.

Last season…

Brighton bettered their 2018/19 league position and matched their 2017/18 effort with a 15th-placed finish last term, collecting 41 points, their highest since their return to the Premier League. A double over Arsenal as well as home wins against Spurs and Everton were the highlights of their latest campaign.

Star man…

Neal Maupay managed 10 Premier League goals in his first season at Brighton after signing from Brentford. The Seagulls didn’t lose any of the 10 games he scored in, winning five times and drawing five times when the 24-year-old Frenchman found the back of the net.

Memorable clash…

Goals from Jonny Evans and Craig Dawson helped the Baggies to a 2-0 win at The Hawthorns against Brighton in January 2018.

Burnley

The gaffer…

Sean Dyche is now the longest-serving Premier League manager. He was recruited by Burnley in 2012 after leaving Watford - the only other club he’s ever managed - and led the Clarets to the top-flight two years later. The 49-year-old has bounced back from an initial relegation setback to mould a competitive side which has surpassed expectations in recent years; consistent top-10 finishes, their highest league standing since 1975 in 2018 (7th) also secured European football for the first time in 51 years thanks to Dyche’s leadership, which was rewarded with a new deal until 2022 the same year.

Last season…

The Clarets post-lockdown form saw them finish strongly to nail their second top-half finish to a season in the last three years. A difficult result in the opening game of the league’s resumption in June - a heavy 5-0 defeat to Manchester City - was met by a tenacious response of seven matches unbeaten to help them finish in 10th spot.

Star man…

Albion fans will need no warning about the threat that Jay Rodriguez poses after his successful stint at The Hawthorns saw him bag 33 goals in all competitions over two seasons. Finishing as Burnley’s second top-scorer last year after netting 11 goals, Rodriguez proved himself as a match-winner once again with decisive goals helping to see off the likes of Bournemouth, Watford and West Ham.

Memorable clash…

The Baggies have only lost once against Burnley in their six most recent top-flight games and one of the better spectacles came during a 4-0 victory at The Hawthorns in November 2016: 

Chelsea

The gaffer…

Chelsea legend Frank Lampard was welcomed with open arms when he returned to Stamford Bridge last season for the first time as their head coach. Entering football management in 2018, the 42-year-old enjoyed an impressive first year with Championship side Derby County - leading them to the Play-Off final and although he fell short of helping the Rams reach the top-flight, he himself would return there as Chelsea boss replacing the outgoing Maurizio Sarri in 2019.

Last season…

Under his guidance, the Blues secured a top-four finish in Lampard’s debut year in charge.The London side reached the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League but a damning 4-1 defeat against victors Bayern Munich ended any hope of European glory. However, reaffirming fourth place in the top-flight last term means they will have another opportunity to mount a challenge for silverware in Europe. Lampard came close to lifting his first trophy as manager in the FA Cup final, but Chelsea suffered a Wembley defeat to Arsenal.

Star man…

The Blues have significantly bolstered their squad this summer, especially with the likes of striker Timo Werner arriving. The German international moved to London for a reported £45m fee from RB Leipzig and his goal-scoring record emphasises the ambition of Lampard’s men ahead of the coming campaign having retained the title as Leipzig’s top-scorer over the last four seasons, with last year proving his most prolific in the League with 34 goals.

Memorable clash…

Then boss José Mourinho had already won the Premier League title by the time they travelled to the Midlands but the celebrations would’ve been dampened somewhat when Saido Berahino’s brace and Chris Brunt’s angled effort rounded off Albion’s last win against Chelsea at the end of the 2015/16 season.

 

Crystal Palace

The gaffer…

Roy Hodgson has a wealth of experience in the game having managed 16 different teams throughout his managerial career. Albion fans will reflect on Hodgson returning to The Hawthorns with fondness having guided them to safety when he took over in February 2012 and finished his tenure by steering the Baggies to a 10th placed-finish before departing to take charge of the England National side in 2013. He’s been Crystal Palace’s manager since September 2017.

 

Last season…

The Eagles retained their Premier League status despite a bitterly disappointing end to the season. Roy’s men won their first game against Bournemouth after the restart but would soon falter, losing seven in a row before a draw with Tottenham on the final day. In light of their poor run-in, Palace still finished nine points above the relegation zone.

Star man…

Wilfried Zaha has proved to be a menace to opposition defences in England’s elite tier which has inevitably resulted in a lot of attention on him. Pace, trickery and the skills the winger exhibits on a regular basis has made him one of the most-fouled players in the division although he will have been frustrated last year having just nine direct goal involvements after the 20 during the 2018/19 campaign.

Memorable clash…

The Baggies ran out 3-2 winners during a thrilling contest with Palace in 2016. Tony Pulis and Alan Pardew battled together but it was Albion gaffer Pulis who would win the day as his Baggies team stormed into a 3-0 lead at half time before withstanding a late second half onslaught.