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Bristol City vs West Brom - Match preview

A pleasant distraction in the shape of FA Cup ambition could be just the tonic for Carlos Corberan and Albion.

Carlos Corberan (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).
Carlos Corberan (Photo by Adam Fradgley/West Bromwich Albion FC via Getty Images).

That late Burnley heartache last Friday night feels a long time ago for Baggies and their supporters.

The eight days between Burnley and Bristol City in tomorrow’s fourth-round tie might have felt even longer for Baggies supporters, concerned when reading growing murmurs of their head coach linked with big Premier League jobs. There has so far been no contact to the club about the Spaniard’s services.

Corberan will not mind time at the training ground to aid physical recuperation, but nobody wants to stew on a disappointing setback for any longer than necessary.

There have not been many of those setbacks in Corberan’s reign so far at The Hawthorns, which this week went past three months.

And, importantly in the superb charge up the Championship since, Albion have marked every defeat – just three in 12 league games – with telling responses.

Albion won five league clashes on the spin following Corberan’s opening 2-0 defeat against high-flying Sheffield United.

When that run ended, with a disheartening last-gasp 1-0 defeat via a penalty at Coventry just before Christmas, the Baggies suitably racked up four victories in a row.

So can they continue the trend and go again after Turf Moor disappointment?

All signs so far under the 39-year-old’s stewardship point to Corberan’s ability to re-engage and inspire a squad on the back of a negative result.

Albion may have lost some ground in the second tier, dropping from sixth to 10th, but have a chance to reach round five in the Cup tomorrow. They did so a couple of years ago on the road by seeing off West Ham through Conor Townsend’s memorable winner. A sold-out following at Ashton Gate will expect a similar outcome, especially after Albion’s success at the Robins on Boxing Day.

Parking league matters for the moment and focusing on a different challenge could prove just the job this weekend. Bristol City have stemmed their run of regular defeats since they slumped to an uninspiring home reverse at the hands of in-form Albion on December 26.

Corberan’s side were gifted a late Christmas three points as the heat was cranked up on Nigel Pearson, who had just a single win in nine at the time.

A crucial victory arrived earlier this month when, on January 14, the Robins were 4-2 Ashton Gate winners over Birmingham.

The Championship still does not make for enthralling reading for City fans with their side down in 17th.

They do, however, hold a seven-point advantage over the bottom three and it might be seen escaping the drop is job done once more.

Central to that buffer is a run of six games unbeaten – two in the FA Cup against Swansea which set up the Baggies tie. Indeed the Robins’ last defeat was that miserable Boxing Day outing where the boss faced jeers from his own supporters.

There will be fourth-round replays this season for the first time since the 2019/20 campaign.

Having lost 10 of the 17 games before the current six-game response, it is certainly signs of progress.

And many would have backed Swansea to progress beyond round three for a tie with Albion, especially over two ties, but Pearson’s men – courtesy of a Sam Bell winner in extra time at the Liberty Stadium – marched on after an initial 1-1 draw which Swansea led much of.

The Robins have this week lost long-term goalkeeper Daniel Bentley, previously No.1 but having lost the role to Max O’Leary this term, to Wolves. A big aim on the transfer front is to keep hold of in-demand attacking starlet Antoine Semenyo, fancied by several Premier League clubs this month.

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