West Brom and Bournemouth go head to head this afternoon in the last of the quintet of 3pm kick offs that are taking place today and for these two teams they will be looking for the same again after their impressive finishes last time around.
Last season’s 10th place team goes head to head with the team that finished just above them in 9th as Tony Pulis and Eddie Howe face off in what is a rare clash of two British managers pitting their wits against each other at this level.
West Brom boss Tony Pulis has just signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until the end of next season and he will be looking to celebrate that with a opening day win. In addition to his new contract there is also a return to the club for former boss Gary Megson who returns as Pulis’ assistant.
The Baggies it is fair to say exceeded expectations last time around with many believing that Pulis would be the first man to be given his marching orders, but credit must go to the Stoke boss for masterminding some impressive performances in the previous campaign.
Had they not stuttered towards the end then they could and arguably should have finished 8th after being in that position for so long but all things considered a top half finish is not something that should be sniffed around these parts.
The same can be said for Bournemouth who finished in a record high position last season in what was their second successive campaign in the top flight. It may be hard to further improve on last season’s efforts what with the top 7 places looking blocked off but Eddie Howe will certainly look to sustain the upward momentum this club has.
This will no doubt be helped by the fact that Howe has made some shrewd signings over the course of the off season. Nathan Ake returns to the South Coast after half a season there on loan while he is also joined by former Chelsea colleague Asmir Begovic.
That will go someway to solidify what was at times a leaky defence last season but it is the signing at the other end of the pitch that is arguably the most shrewd one as Jermaine Defoe joins the club after leaving Sunderland on a free transfer after their relegation to the EFL Championship.
Defoe was one of the only real shining lights in what was a miserable Sunderland outfit and his goals have got him back in the international frame. With the fact it is a World Cup season, he will be looking to make sure he is one of Gareth Southgate’s final 23.
In terms of goings on today in the West Midlands there is very little between two teams as the league positions from last season would show. Therefore with very little to split them I reckon this one will be a draw as both teams end up getting off the mark.
Here is what social media thinks will happen at The Hawthorns this afternoon
— Dan Tracey (@dantracey1983) August 11, 2017