Hull v West Brom: Tigers show their teeth in good run
Albion are set for an intriguing tactical battle when they travel to take on Hull tomorrow.
The Tigers may be sat 11th in the Championship, but – along with the Baggies – they are the most in-form team in the division.
Grant McCann’s side have won each of their last three matches, with their last outing a 3-0 victory at Fulham.
And they have done it by playing on the counter-attack and in a system that often sees them operate without a recognised centre-forward.
For Albion centre-backs Semi Ajayi and Kyle Bartley, the big question heading into the game is how they are going to cope with the threat of Jarrod Bowen.
The 22-year-old is, without question, one of the best finishers in the division and scored 22 goals from the right-wing last season.
This year he already has 10 in just 16 outings.
But rather than operating out wide, he has been deployed centrally, as a false nine, in recent weeks.
And that means Bartley and Ajayi are going to have to be careful not to be dragged into areas they don’t want to be in.
Knowing when to stick on Bowen – and when to leave him to Jake Livermore and Romaine Sawyers – is going to be key.
Because if Ajayi and Bartley leave too many gaps there is a danger they will be exploited by widemen Kamil Grosicki and Josh Bowler.
Left-winger Grosicki, in particular, is a real danger, with the Poland international having netted four times this season.
It means Albion are going to have to be incredibly switched on at the back.
But their defensive record away from The Hawthorns has been outstanding this year.
Bilic’s side have conceded just five goals on their travels all season.
And while Hull have been excellent on the counter-attack, the fact they are likely to concede possession to the Baggies should play into their hands.
Albion are a team who want to have the ball.
And they have shown time and time again this season they have the quality to create chances even when teams sit back.
One big reason for that has been the form of Matheus Pereira.
But he will be eager to prove a point tomorrow after being substituted during the win at Stoke.
There is no doubt the wonderfully gifted Brazilian is no longer a secret in the Championship.
In the last few matches, teams have decided to man-mark the 23-year-old and follow him everywhere he goes.
By hook or by crook, Badou Ndiaye did a job preventing him from finding any rhythm on Monday.
But Pereira is too talented not to adapt to being a marked man.
And against Charlton he showed he is finding new ways to find space with the Brazilian delivering three outstanding crosses from the byline.
With Albion set to have the ball and Hull set to play on the counter, both teams will be able to deploy Plan A tomorrow.
With the quality they have in midfield and up front, though, the Baggies will head to Yorkshire confident of making it four away victories in a row.