Express & Star

West Brom v Bristol City: Albion looking to shake off international break blues

Albion have an unwanted 100 per cent record they must address as Bristol City roll into town on the eve of a first international break of 2024.


There haven’t been too many standout frustrations for Carlos Corberan and his side this season but the inability to collect points before a league hiatus in action is one.

Three games before international breaks in the first half of the campaign yielded, remarkably, zero points after a home defeat against lowly Huddersfield and a couple of reverses on the road at neighbours Birmingham and then Southampton.

Head coach Corberan is well aware and referenced such a struggle earlier this year and will want to ensure his troops go into the near-fortnight breather extending their good run of recent form.

The Baggies have lost just once in nine games, winning five in that run. They are favourites at home to mid-table Bristol City, who in 13th under Liam Manning are having an indifferent campaign but snapped a four-game losing streak by seeing off Swansea last time out.

Home supporters have been largely spoilt in terms of results under Corberan but there are still healing scars from the shock 2-1 home defeat to the Terriers in early September, where the Baggies were too open and felt a late, stoppage-time sting and were still to keep a clean sheet.

Things settled down, though Albion lost in a similar manner to Leicester – a side who looked set to race clear and break title records – a few months later.

Form away from home has been a problem until recently and Corberan has lost twice at St Andrew’s, both forgettable Friday night contests, this one featuring a damaging John Swift injury and inexplicable penalty decision, but ultimately a poor 3-1 defeat.

Southampton were strong in November but the Baggies were competitive and deserved more than a 2-1 loss. It didn’t make the pill any less bitter for Corberan to swallow ahead of a break, where there is no time to rally immediately and put things right on the pitch. Albion, to their credit, have gone on decent runs after all of the breaks and a repeat beyond Good Friday would all-but secure their top-six place. Victory over the Robins at home will ensure at least a five-point buffer with eight games left.

One player likely to remain unavailable to Corberan is experienced winger Matty Phillips.

Phillips was pictured partaking in team training on Wednesday, the day of his 33rd birthday, as he comes to the end of a frustrating four-and-a-half months on the sidelines.

He last figured against Leicester on December 2 but underwent surgery on a torn hamstring.

The latest in a string of setbacks across Phillips’ Baggies career curtailed some impressive form for the long-serving wideman, who was influential in the early months of the season.

Corberan had previously stated Phillips would return to availability on the other side of the international break.

Ashton Gate loanee Andi Weimann is ineligible to face his parent club.