Brighton & Hove Albion-West Brom Preview
West Bromwich Albion manager Alan Pardew has called on the fans to be his team's "12th Man" for Saturday's game against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Hawthorns.
West Brom (2-10-10) have not won a Premier League match since Pardew replaced Tony Pulis as manager in November, with their only two league wins coming way back in August. That disastrous run of results means that the Midlands club go into this contest in the relegation zone and four points behind 17th-placed Southampton.
However, the visit of out-of-form Brighton (5-8-9) on Saturday will offer the Baggies a chance to lift themselves closer to safety, and Pardew says that help from the fans will play a crucial role.
"We need encouragement all the way, we need you to stick with the players and be right behind them from the first whistle to the last," the 56-year-old urged the supporters in an interview that will be published in the match programme. "In battles that I've had in the past at Newcastle and Crystal Palace, the home fans determine how things will go much, much more than you might imagine.
"You play a bigger part in results than perhaps you think. They don't call supporters the '12th Man' for nothing. And if you think I'm pleading with you - yes I am!"
Brighton, meanwhile, have won just one of their last 11 league matches - including disappointing draws with Newcastle United and Bournemouth in their last two. It's a stretch that has largely undone a strong start to their debut Premier League campaign.
Manager Chris Hughton struggled to get his squad firing on all cylinders during a busy Christmas period, but the coach remains positive about how his players have performed in the top-flight so far.
"Overall I think we've done OK, but it's such a tight division and we continually talk about (judging) over a season," Hughton said in his midweek media conference. "It's not a short period and there were some teams who had difficult starts that you were quite confident would start to improve - Everton have pushed on, West Ham with the quality that they have.
"That makes it a very difficult and competitive league, of course, and any team that has a difficult period and loses two and certainly three games on the spin can find themselves in and around that bottom three.
"So yes, that's always the concern. It's always about trying to keep as far as we can away from the third-from-bottom team."
Brighton begin the weekend three points away from that third-from-bottom team, while West Brom are a further four points less well off.
The visitors remain without the injured duo of Isaiah Brown and Steve Sidwell, while West Brom's Nacer Chadli will also be missing with his ongoing hip problem. James Morrison and Jonny Evans face late fitness tests for the Baggies.
Brighton won 3-1 when these teams met in September.
Updated January 11, 2018