West Brom travel away to take on Aston Villa on Saturday in the first leg of their play-off semi-final clash.
The Baggies ended their season with a 3-1 defeat to Derby last Sunday, finishing 4th in the league. Due to Leeds’ loss to Ipswich, West Brom would have finished 3rd in the table had they beaten Derby and would have been facing Middlesbrough – who would have finished 6th.
Aston Villa, meanwhile, signed off the regular season with a 2-1 defeat to Norwich City – who won the Championship title and lifted it at Villa Park – confirming Villa’s place in 5th.
The midlands rivals now face off against each other in hope of reaching the play-off final – where they will play either Leeds or Derby – as they look to gain promotion back to the Premier League.
How will James Shan line up his side? Here is our prediction…
Played every single minute of West Brom’s league campaign this season. Hard to see that changing ahead of this crucial match.
Holgate joined on loan from Everton in January and has settled into the right-back slot. The young English defender is one of West Brom’s best players.
Dawson is a reliable central defender, although he has not quite been at his best this season. He has been a regular under Darren Moore and James Shan.
Hegazi has, arguably, been West Brom’s best, and most consistent, defender in the Championship this season. He will need to be at his best to deal with Villa’s attack.
Gibbs has been somewhat of an unsung hero for West Brom this season. He has been impressive at left-back and will be vital in the play-offs.
Livermore has had his ups and downs this season for West Brom, but the club need him to be on top form to take on Villa’s vast array of midfield talent – including Jack Grealish. He is, however, a slight injury doubt and could be replaced.
The talented young midfielder has burst onto the scene in 2019 and become a key member of West Brom’s team. His contract expires this summer and promotion may be the only way the club can keep him at The Hawthorns.
Johansen had a tough start to life at West Brom after joining on loan from Fulham in January, but has now settled into his role in the team and started to impress. He will be vital in the two games against Villa and has experience of winning the play-offs last season.
Phillips has struggled with injuries throughout this season, but came off the bench on the final day against Derby, which suggest that he will be fit enough to start against Villa.
Rodriguez has been excellent this season and clinical in front of goal when called upon. West Brom need him at his best if they are to better their local rivals.
No doubts over his place in the team. Gayle is West Brom’s star player and will be the key to earning promotion to the Premier League later this month.