Match Preview | West Bromwich Albion vs. Cardiff City
OPPOSITION FOCUS | IN THE DUGOUT
Steve Bruce was appointed manager of West Bromwich Albion in February this year, following the departure of Valérien Ismaël.
Bruce had a stellar playing career, representing Manchester United in over 300 league games, winning the Premier League and FA Cup on three occasions.
During his time in management, the Baggies boss led Birmingham City to promotion from the Championship to the Premier League twice, through the play-offs in 2003 and automatically in 2007.
Bruce had further success in the second-tier during his spell at Hull City, earning two promotions during his time with the Tigers, as well as leading them to the FA Cup Final, where they lost an enthralling contest to Arsenal.
Prior to his move to the Hawthorns, Bruce spent two years at top-flight outfit Newcastle United, where his 27.4% win percentage was the ninth best of Newcastle managers in the Premier League era.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | SUMMER SIGNINGS
Bruce has bolstered his squad this summer with four new signings, mostly in the midfield department.
The Baggies boss had utilised the free transfers market, by adding John Swift and Okay Yokuşlu following the expiration of their contracts at Reading and Celta Vigo respectively.
Swift was a standout performer in the Championship last season with 11 goals and 12 assists, while Yokuşlu was a hugely popular figure with the Baggies fans during his loan spell in 2021.
Further adding to his midfield options, Bruce made Jayson Molumby’s loan move from Brighton and Hove Albion permanent, with the Republic of Ireland international signing a contract until 2025.
A shrewd acquisition for the club this summer was attracting Jed Wallace to the Hawthorns, following his departure from Millwall. The talented winger has impressed for a number of seasons in the second-tier, scoring six league goals last term.
OPPOSITION FOCUS | KEY PLAYERS
The Baggies’ top scorer in the Championship last season was Karlan Grant, who accumulated an impressive tally of 18 goals.
The striker has started the campaign strongly once more, netting back-to-back in the Baggies’ last two fixtures against Watford and Sheffield United.
New signing Swift proved his quality during his time at Reading, enjoying a prolific season of regular goals and assists. If the midfielder can replicate last year’s form for the Baggies, he’ll be a key figure for Bruce’s men.
Another talent in Wednesday’s opponents’ ranks is Grady Diangana. The winger had a successful loan spell from West Ham United in the 2019/20 season, before making the move to the Hawthorns permanent.
CITY CONNECTIONS | BAGGIES AND BLUEBIRDS
From prolific goalscorers to astute signings, there have been many players to represent both the Baggies and the Bluebirds.
Wednesday’s fixture could see defender Semi Ajayi face his former club, spending time in the Welsh capital between 2015 and 2017. Going on to impress for Rotherham United, Ajayi made the move to West Bromwich Albion in 2019 and has been an impressive figure ever since.
Despite being unable to feature against his former club, City defender Cédric Kipré is currently on loan at the Bluebirds from West Bromwich Albion, impressing in his competitive debut against Norwich City on the opening day & also in our most recent victory over Birmingham City.
Defender Lee Peltier was a key figure for City during the promotion-winning campaign under Neil Warnock in 2017/18. Departing the Welsh capital for West Bromwich Albion in 2020, Peltier provided reliable experience during their Premier League season.
Moving onto prolific goalscorers, Robert Earnshaw is another to represent both clubs. During the 2002/03 season, Earnshaw notably scored a fantastic tally of 31 league goals in 49 appearances, before making the switch to the Baggies in 2004.
One of the most successful loan spells at Cardiff City is Jason Koumas’ season on loan from West Bromwich Albion in the 2005/06 season. The talented Wales international consistently put in man of the match performances on his way to being named the club’s Player of the Year.