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West Brom v City: The Opposition View

Ahead of City’s Premier League curtain raiser, we took a look at the team that will be lining up on the opposite side of the field on Monday night…

Both teams will be eager to start 2015/16 with three points and it’s sure to be a keenly contested encounter in the Midlands in front of the Sky Sports cameras.

Fan view:

We spoke to WBA fan Mark (@albiontillwedie) to get his thoughts on City, the Baggies, and where he sees the game being won and lost…

How do you see the game going?

Well hopefully with it being the first game of the season we will be meeting City at a good time, certainly before they get into any sort of rhythm.

With home advantage too and an expectant Hawthorns' crowd I'm confident we will give you more of a match than we have done the last two seasons when quite frankly we never turned up.

In Saido Berahino and Rickie Lambert we have players that will cause problems for any defence, so much will depend on how our own defence copes with City's attacking threat.

Towards the end of last season, The Hawthorns witnessed a fantastic Albion performance in beating Chelsea 3-0, and if we can produce a similar performance on Monday night then anything is possible. Personally I'd be more than happy with a point and I suspect City wouldn't be too unhappy with that result to open the season with either. 1-1.

Which City players do you most fear?

City's attacking options are pretty frightening with Sergio Aguero, Wilfried Bony and David Silva all fantastic players, but I've a feeling the player most likely to cause us problems is Raheem Sterling.

With it being his first 'proper' game for City he's sure to be out to impress and silence his many doubters.

With Craig Dawson and Chris Brunt likely to fill the Albion full-back positions there's certainly going to be a lack of pace that Sterling may just be able to exploit.

If you could choose one City player to sign who would it be and why?

There's probably a dozen City players I wouldn't say no to, but if I had to pick one it would be Aguero - a terrific player, truly world class.

His goalscoring record is superb and if he can reproduce last season's form City won't be too far away from success come the end of the season.

Do you think there any potential weak spots in City’s team?

For all City's attacking strength, I do feel their defence isn't as strong as would be expected for a top team.

Whilst Joe Hart is a fantastic goalkeeper, the defenders in front of him leave a little to be desired at times with perhaps the exception of Vincent Kompany.

With Berahino, Lambert, McClean and McManaman likely to be involved for the Baggies we do have the quality to pose City's defence plenty of problems, especially out wide.

Which players should City be wary of in the Albion line up?

Saido Berahino is our main goal threat and has been now for two seasons. Speculation continues to link him with a move away from The Hawthorns and it is probably only a matter of time before he moves on to bigger things. He's a fantastic finisher of chances and the arrival of the experienced Rickie Lambert to play alongside him can only help improve him further.

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Elsewhere on the pitch Chris Brunt is always a danger from free-kicks and corners - last season saw him provide more assists from set-pieces than any other Premier League player, a remarkable feat considering the talent plying their trade in England these days.

What sort of football do you expect Albion to play?

Tony Pulis' sides are notoriously well organised and I expect it to be no different on Monday night.

With the addition of some pace during the summer, and reportedly more to come, we will probably rely more on counter-attacking football this season than we did previously. Considering how good City's attacking options are I think it's pretty pointless Albion attempting to go toe-to-toe with them so sitting back and catching City on the break may be the way to go.

What chants can we expect to hear on the Albion terraces?

Almost certainly there will be a rendition or two of our unofficial anthem 'The lord is my shepherd', better known by most as Psalm 23.

I think there will be a few 'One Tony Pulis' chants, the gaffer is certainly a popular figure amongst supporters and no doubt fan favourites like Berahino, McAuley, Brunt and Yacob will also hear their songs given an airing. Hopefully our goal celebration 'Boing Boing' will get an outing or two as well…

How do you regard City as a club?

I've always liked City, certainly preferring them to the other team in Manchester. For many years I felt Albion and City were very similar, both decent sized clubs that had seen better days.

Obviously the stadium move and change of ownership has now moved City onto another level altogether.

Who will win the league this season?

Look away now but I feel it may be Chelsea again. City, United and Liverpool have all spent big but Chelsea have Mourinho…

They are certainly not the most attractive team to watch but they do have the all-important ability to grind out result after result.

Where will Albion finish?

If Pulis gets his men and we hang onto Berahino I think we should be able to have a relatively stress-free season and achieve a comfortable mid-table finish.  I'll say 12th.

Form:

West Brom welcome City to the Hawthorns looking to reverse a run of just one win in their last five home opening weekend fixtures.

However, Albion have ten clean sheets in their 18 league games under Tony Pulis and will be out to frustrate City’s wealth of attacking options.

The two sides last met in the Black Country on Boxing Day 2014, when Manuel Pellegrini’s Blues ran out 3-1 winners.

Team news:

Former Blue Joleon Lescott is a doubt for Monday’s clash after suffering a knock, while Ben Foster is sidelined with a knee injury.

Rickie Lambert, James McClean and James Chester could all make debuts, but new loanee Serge Gnabry will be unavailable after his registration didn’t go through in time for the opening round of games.

In Tony Pulis’ words:

"The experience makes you more aware of what is around the corner and what could happen.

"It's apprehension as much as anything else and the determination to get through another season.”

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