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Preview: Barnsley vs. West Bromwich Albion - prediction, team news, lineups
17/12/2021 15:53:11

Valerien Ismael makes his return to Barnsley with his West Bromwich Albion side sitting just three points off the automatic promotion places in the Championship standings.

While the Baggies have recently rediscovered some form, the Tykes have failed to improve under Poya Asbaghi, the Tykes now sitting eight points adrift of safety.

We say: Barnsley 0-2 West Bromwich Albion

There have been few signs that Barnsley are ready to get their first win under Asbaghi, and that leads us to considering only one result on Friday. While it may not be pretty at times, we still expect the Baggies to record a relatively-comfortable win at Oakwell.

Match preview

There will be some West Brom supporters who remain unconvinced by head coach Ismael with the West Midlands outfit managing back-to-back wins on just two occasions since the end of August.

Nevertheless, despite their four-game winless streak during November, two successive victories have ensured that West Brom have taken full advantage of the slip-ups of Fulham and Bournemouth.

The gap to the second-placed Cherries has been reduced to just three points, handing Ismael and his squad a clear opportunity to move level with them on Friday night.

Goals remain a clear issue for this side but their defensive record - the best in the division - has kept them competitive, and just three strikes have been conceded in seven games.

Callum Robinson netted the decisive goal in the 1-0 triumph over Reading last weekend, ending his near-four-month wait in the process.

This time last year, Barnsley supporters have been quickly won over by the impact of Ismael, but it is a different story 12 months on with Asbaghi still looking for his first win.

Having taken over a struggling team, the former Sweden Under-21s boss deserves time, although Tykes fans may argue otherwise with just two points coming from four favourable games.

Barnsley now face another quartet of fixtures against in-form teams, and such a period has come at the wrong time as they bid to avoid losing further ground to 21st position.

Cauley Woodrow scored what ended up being a consolation goal during the 2-1 defeat at Preston North End, the first time that he had found the back of the net since September 29.

Team News

Despite suffering defeat at Deepdale, Asbaghi was full of praise for the performance, and that could result in the same Barnsley team being selected on Friday.

Having made late outings as substitutes during that game, Josh Benson, Aaron Leya Iseka and Victor Adeboyejo are seemingly first in line for a recall.

West Brom could remain with a make-shift defence for this game, regardless of whether any of Cedric Kipre, Semi Ajayi, Matt Clarke and Conor Townsend are able to return.

Each of the quartet tested positive for coronavirus last week, resulting in the likes of Jake Livermore and Adam Reach featuring in a three-man backline.

The versatile Taylor Gardner-Hickman should also keep his spot at left wing-back after impressing during the win over Reading.

Barnsley possible starting lineup:

Collins; Helik, Andersen, Kitching; Brittain, Palmer, Gomes, Styles; Odour, Woodrow, Morris

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:

Johnstone; Livermore, Bartley, Reach; Furlong, Molumby, Mowatt, Gardner-Hickman; Robinson, Hugill, Grant

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