West Brom will play Premier League football for the first time since May 2018 this afternoon when they welcome Leicester to The Hawthorns.
Despite a stuttering finish to the 2019/20 season, Slaven Bilic’s side did enough to clinch the second automatic promotion place in the Championship and avoid the lottery of the play-offs, where they came a cropper the previous year.
Bilic goes into his first match as a Premier League manager in nearly three years with a near-full squad at his disposal, with Conor Townsend and Kenneth Zohore the only injury doubts (as per WhoScored).
Here is our predicted starting XI for West Brom’s first match back in the top flight after a two-year absence:
Despite the recent arrival of David Button from Brighton, Sam Johnstone looks set to start in goal, having been West Brom’s only ever-present player in last season’s Championship. Townsend’s injury should see Kieran Gibbs get the nod at left-back, while Dara O’Shea‘s strong form towards the end of 2019/20 could earn him the right-back slot ahead of Darnell Furlong.
Semi Ajayi was a near-constant presence at centre-back last term and should start against Leicester, although he may have a new partner alongside him as Bilic could hand a Baggies debut to summer signing Cedric Kipre, who was once in the academy of today’s opponents.
Do you think Cedric Kipre will start against Leicester?
The defensive midfield pairing of Romaine Sawyers and Jake Livermore were two of just three outfield players to start more than 40 league games for Albion last season and look set to renew their partnership this afternoon.
Despite Callum Robinson joining from Sheffield United this week, the impressive form of Kamil Grosicki for Poland during the international break could see him get the nod on the left wing, with Grady Diangana starting on the right flank as he did on occasion in 2019/20. Matheus Pereira would then take the number 10 role behind the lone centre-forward, where Bilic has an enviable decision to make.
Hal Robson-Kanu and Charlie Austin both hit double figures last term, with the former perhaps being preferred as he started more regularly in 2019/20 and also returned to the Wales fold last weekend, making an appearance in the win over Bulgaria (as per BBC).
West Brom fans, is this the team that you would select for today’s clash? Give us your views in the comments section below!
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