West Bromwich Albion v Everton

Six games have passed since the not so popular appointment of Sam Allardyce, but in the three and a half weeks Big Sam has been in the Goodison hot seat he has gone a long way in swaying the doubters.

With five clean sheets in the Blues’ last seven fixtures, it is clear the defence (the same unit that shipped 28 Premier League goals in the first 13 matches) is no longer the issue.

But if Saturday’s stalemate with Antonio Conte’s reigning champions was anything to go by, it is clear Allardyce now must prioritise his attacking third, with the Blues logging zero shots on target against Chelsea.

In what is the penultimate round of clashes of 2017, Alan Pardew is still looking for his first win as manager of West Brom since he replaced Tony Pulis back in November – he’ll be desperate to make home advantage count.

The Baggies are currently sitting 19th in the division, three points adrift of West Ham in 17th, and no side in the league have won fewer then the two victories the hosts have this campaign.

Everton boast a healthy recent record at the Hawthorns, taking nine points out of the last nine available in the black country.

One to watch

Gareth Barry.

He isn’t exactly a goal scoring menace, but going off Albion’s form, no one really stands out. Since leaving the Blues, Barry has gone on to beat Ryan Giggs’ record for the most PL appearances – a terrific feat.

But it’s the fear that comes with any player coming up against their former club that he will return to haunt them that makes the former England international a man who needs a close eye on if selected.

Team news – 

The home side will be without creative midfield man Nacer Chadli, he is joined on the side-lines by Matt Phillips and James Morrison.

Idrissa Gueye hobbled off against Chelsea having injured his hamstring and is likely to miss four games.

Allardyce will be hoping to have Wayne Rooney at his disposal again after his absence at the weekend with flu.

Yannick Bolasie made the bench last time out but the DR Congo international will be hoping he can make his first appearance in over a year against West Brom.

Man in the middle – 

Roger East will officiate. He has produced 47 yellows and two reds in the 13 games he has refereed this term.

Depending on results elsewhere of course, three points for the hosts could see them escape the relegation zone whereas an away victory would see Everton rise to 29 points, potentially taking over Leicester and closing the gap on Burnley in the process.

Up the Toffees.

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