West Bromwich Albion welcome Everton in the live Televised Barclays Premier League fixture at the Hawthorns this evening, in Pepe Mel’s first game in charge.
Albion will welcome Mel to the dugout following a long drawn out process to find Steve Clarke’s replacement, following the Scott’s sacking in the December of last year.
Mel stated in his pre match interview ahead of the clash.
“My plan is to win, it is my only mentality and I hope to see the fans doing the ‘boing-boing’ very soon.”
Albion have become a stable Premier League side over the last three or so years, having become a well managed team, who play attractive football, as the Baggies have overhauled the label of a yo-yo club, a tag that has haunted them for several years, due to several relegations.
West Bromwich have looked a completely different side to the one that finished in a lofthy eighth position last season, with the Baggies currently sitting in 14th position going into tonights fixture, coming off the back of a 1-0 defeat away at Southampton last weekend.
The Baggies now need to haul themselves out of a sticky situation, with the side looking over their shoulder nervously.
Albion have struggled for consistancy all season, and have also struggled for goals, and with Shane Long now at Hull, the Albion need to get their act together to get out the mess, and that means filling the void left by Romelu Lukaku.
That responsibility falls to ageing Frenchman Nicholas Anelka, and teenage sensation Saido Berahino, with the pair scoring in the 3-3 draw against fellow strugglers West Ham United in late December.
Mel guided Real Betis to a superb 7th place finish in La Liga last season, but was sacked by the Andalucian club in December with the club bottom of La Liga, knows all about the pressures of relegation. However, his overall record in Spain was good.
Albion’s opponants, Everton, head into the game in fine form, with the Toffees sitting in sixth place, after just two defeats in the Premier League this season, following a superb start to the campaign.
Manager Martinez has carried on, and argubly improved Everton’s stature as an ambitious club, with the former Wigan Athletic manager making some shrewd signings in the summer, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku, James McCarthy and Gareth Barry coming into the club.
Martinez has also carried on the home grown structure of the club, with the likes of Ross Barkley, Seamus Coleman, and Leighton Baines all in superb form, and earning plaudits on a regular, weekly basis, and attracting other clubs to a possible transfer.
Roberto Martinez has built on that platform to now challenge for a Champions League place. This is their best return after 21 games of a season in 35 years.
The game also see’s a Hawthorns return for Romelu Lukaku, Lukaku spent last season on loan in the Midlands, enjoying a successful spell, scoring 17 goals.
Everton come into the game following a hard fought win against Norwich City, and the Merseysiders should come out on top tonight in what will be a close encounter.
Last season’s fixture at the Hawthorns finished in an emphatic 3-0 win for the Baggies in the August of 2012.
Martinez may hand recent recruit Aiden McGeady, who has signed a lucrative deal from Russian side Spartak Moscow.
My Prediction…. West Bromwich 0 Everton 2.
By Ben Reardon