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2016/17 preview: Energy key to West Brom joy

12 Aug 2016
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Tony Pulis says his team will be working hard to achieve success in the 2016/17 Premier League

Ahead of the new Premier League season, we look at each club competing in the 2016/17 campaign.

West Bromwich Albion

West Bromwich Albion will aim to build on a campaign of mid-table security after an encouraging pre-season ahead of their seventh successive Premier League season. 

Highest finishing position

The Baggies secured a top-half finish for the first time in 2012/13, when Steve Clarke led them to eighth. They had been as high as third at the end of November as they challenged the Premier League’s big boys for much of the campaign.

Signings

Matt Phillips is West Brom’s only summer signing so far after his switch from Queens Park Rangers.

The 25-year-old winger is set for his third Premier League campaign, having scored a goal-of-the-season contender in 25 appearances for QPR in 2014/15, and featuring in Blackpool’s debut in the competition during 2010/11.

Victor Anichebe, Stephane Sessegnon and Anders Lindegaard have been released.

Expected formation

The emergence of 17-year-old winger Jonathan Leko led to Tony Pulis opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation in the run-in of 2015/16, with Salomon Rondon leading the line and scoring in each of the final two matches.

Phillips will compete with Leko, Callum McManaman and James McClean for the two wide berths. Darren Fletcher, the Baggies’ captain, and Claudio Yacob protected a back four consisting of central defenders by trade.

The strong spine of West Brom’s line-up should stay intact, with Pulis often reverting to a 4-1-4-1 formation to enhance the side's resilience.

Managers

Pulis continued his record of never suffering relegation from the Premier League last season as West Brom finished 14th.

He has managed three clubs in the Premier League, guiding Stoke City to the top flight and leading them to five successive seasons there, before steering Crystal Palace away from relegation in 2013/14. He took charge of West Brom in January 2015.

Gary Megson led the club to their first Premier League season in 2002, with Bryan Robson, Tony Mowbray, Roberto Di Matteo, Roy Hodgson, Steve Clarke, Pepe Mel and Alan Irvine the other managers in the PL.

Last season

West Brom recovered from three matches without victory at the start of 2015/16 to climb out of the relegation zone and remain in the upper reaches of the bottom half.

Four draws and four losses from their final eight matches dropped them to 14th, but they finished six points clear of the bottom three.

Pre-season form

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A narrow 2-1 defeat to PSG was among West Brom's pre-season schedule

West Brom’s pre-season schedule started with an encouraging performance against French Ligue 1 champions Paris Saint-Germain. The Baggies went 1-0 up, thanks to David Luiz’s own goal, before a strong PSG side fought back to win 2-1.

They followed that up with 2-1 wins over Kidderminster Harriers and Vitesse Arnhem. Two different Albion XIs faced Plymouth Argyle and Torquay United in quick succession, drawing the first 0-0 before a 2-1 loss at Torquay.

Their final pre-season match came against Mallorca on 6 August, a narrow 1-0 defeat.  

Significant injuries

Chris Brunt is the club’s only major absentee, having suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury back in February.

Manager quote

On West Brom’s week-long fitness camp in Austria, head coach Pulis said: “We were up at 5.15am each morning, which has been a new experience for some of the players, and they all worked incredibly hard, with some good banter flying around to keep them going.

“Last year I think we came either second or third in the Premier League for running stats and we need to make sure the players are fit enough to do that again."

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