22 October 2019 20:36
The Tykes – who currently sit bottom of the Championship – will head to The Hawthorns with a youthful side intent on frustrating Slaven Bilic's men. Currently under the guidance of caretaker boss Adam Murray, Barnsley switched to playing three centre-backs in their 1-1 draw with Swansea on Saturday. And they are expected to line-up in a similar 5-3-2 system tonight. Albion are likely to have to be patient if they are going to break them down. But in Romaine Sawyers, Matheus Pereira and Charlie Austin, they have three players whose footballing intelligence should see them over the line.
Sawyers in particular is in for a busy evening. With the visitors playing three central midfielders, he and Jake Livermore will often be outnumbered. But if he can get on the ball and find Pereira, Grady Diangana and Matt Phillips between the lines, Albion should get plenty of joy. Bilic will hope Phillips has recovered from a shin problem so he can be restored to the starting XI. And that's because the experience he and Austin bring will be particularly useful.
Advertising But Phillips is a winger who is clever when it comes to mixing up his game. He knows when to go at his man and when to deliver the ball from deep. And with the direct Diangana on the other flank, Barnsley will constantly be asked different questions. It is likely Murray's Plan A tonight will be to get men behind the ball in a bid to make life difficult for Albion. That means for Austin in particular it will be difficult to find space. But the 30-year-old is savvy enough to draw defenders into areas they don't want to be in. And while that may not lead to chances for himself, it will lead to opportunities for others. Throw in the vision and outrageous passing ability of Pereira and there is so much in Albion's arsenal they should win the game. At the back, though, Kyle Bartley and Semi Ajayi will be kept busy by strikers Cauley Woodrow and Conor Chaplin. Chaplin impressed against Swansea on Saturday, while Woodrow has three goals in nine Championship outings this season. One thing that may help Albion tonight, though, is the fact Barnsley travel to take on Yorkshire rivals Huddersfield on Saturday. Despite it being early days, that match looks like it will have a big say in the battle to avoid the drop. And with Tykes fans in need of something to cheer, they may have one eye on securing a result in the derby. Likely line-up: West Brom (4-2-3-1): Johnstone; Ferguson, Ajayi, Bartley, Furlong; Livermore, Sawyers; Diangana, Pereira, Phillips; Austin. Subs: Bond, Hegazi, Townsend, Brunt, Edwards, Robson-Kanu, Krovinovic. Barnsley (5-3-2): Collins, Andersen, Halme, Sibbick, Dougall, Cavare, McGeehan, Mowatt, Brown, Woodrow, Chaplin. Nathan Ferguson has enjoyed a breakout season at West Brom - something which hasn't gone unnoticed by top-level clubs across Europe. The 19-year-old has unsurprisingly already got Premier League sides knocking on his door, but European giants like Juventus and Atlético Madrid have also been linked most recently. Unless you keep a keen eye on the Football League, chances are you might have missed a defensive England Under-20 international breaking through in the w est Midlands. Thankfully, 90min have got you covered with some things you need to know about Ferguson before he moves on to bigger and better things. Slaven's Man Ferguson didn't just make his senior debut when Slaven Bilić took over at the start of the season, the 19-year-old has almost been an ever-present in the Championship this season. He only missed West Brom's home match against Reading on matchday four, while Ferguson hasn't been substituted in any of his 11 league appearances. Only five players have made more appearances under Bilić this season. Versatility Has Been Key A regular with West Brom's Under-23 side last season, Ferguson was initially called up to the first-team after earning a reputation as their most exciting right-back. With experience also under his belt playing through the middle, Ferguson was switched to play as West Brom's left-back at the end of August and he's stayed their ever since. His first senior goal, which was against Queens Park Rangers last month, came after moving to an unnatural left-back position. He's an England Youth International Ferguson has picked up international experience with England's Under-18, Under-19 and Under-20 sides over the last 12 months, even going on to represent the Young Lions at last year's Panda Cup in China. During his years with England's youth teams, Ferguson has played alongside the likes of Jonathan Panzo (Cercle Brugge, on loan from Monaco), Felix Nmecha, Joel Latibeaudiere (both Manchester City) and Angel Gomes (Manchester United). He's Had a Taste of the Premier League Ferguson might have only made his debut at the start of this season, but West Brom's academy graduate first made their senior squad back when the Baggies were in the Premier League. It would have been a baptism of fire if Ferguson had come off the bench in December 2017, but he ultimately remained an unused substitute as Alan Pardew's side picked up an impressive draw against Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool. Comparisons With Declan Rice Ferguson might be a full-back by trade, but that hasn't stopped West Brom manager Bilić noticing that the teenager has some similarities with West Ham midfielder and England star Declan Rice. " Nathan reminds me of Declan Rice," Bilić said, quoted by The Express and Star. "He is only 18 on paper. But in his mind, I don't know, is he 25 or 27, he is a kid but only a kid in a positive way. "It is our job to keep him humble. There is no doubt he has an extremely bright future and a great career in front of him." There's a New Contract Already on the Table With interest coming Ferguson's way from the Premier League and even top sides across Europe, it's no surprise that West Brom are eager to tie him down to a new long-term contract at the Hawthorns. The 19-year-old was only signed to a two-and-a-half-year deal for his first professional contract at West Brom, so could be free to walk away from the club on a free transfer next summer. But The Telegraph claims a new five-year deal has already been put on the table, with West Brom's key decision-makers confident that an agreement can be reached before Ferguson is allowed to talk to clubs abroad in January. For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter! Derby look a nice price to beat Wigan at Pride Park. The Rams haven't had a great season, but they have won their last two home games, and draws against Cardiff and West Brom prior to that are far from poor results. However, it's Wigan's away record which stands out here. Under Paul Cook in the Championship, Wigan have been consistently excellent at home and dreadful on the road. Nothing's changed this season: the Latics have won their last three at the DW, but have taken just a single point from their six away games – failing to score four times. The signs aren't great for Wigan ahead of this one, which is why I'm backing an odds-against Rams win.