Sheffield United v West Brom: Key men back, weaknesses and Steve Bruce - The view from the Hawthorns ahead of crunch clash

Sheffield United will be looking for their fourth successive league victory tomorrow evening when they take on West Bromwich Albion, in another crunch game for the Blades’ play-off hopes.

Tuesday, 8th February 2022, 2:10 pm

The Baggies travel to Bramall Lane fifth in the Championship table, but United can go level with Steve Bruce’s side if they can inflict a rare victory on a side managed by their former boss.

Bruce has managed against United 14 times in his career, and won 10 of those games – losing only twice.

But United will be full of confidence after their victory at Birmingham City at the weekend. And to get the inside track on the Baggies, we spoke to Ben Ramsdale of Birmingham World…

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West Brom’s key player

It's a tough one from a Baggies perspective because, despite them being fifth in the table, the performances over the past two months or so have been dismal, with nobody standing out above the crowd.

Left wing-back Conor Townsend has arguably been the team's most consistent player and could improve further under new management. He's extremely attack minded whilst also being more than capable defensively - certainly one to watch.

England's Sam Johnstone is expected to feature in the West Bromwich Albion side that faces Sheffield United at Bramall Lane (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

How Bruce's return will affect Blades' preparations for West Brom clash

West Brom’s strengths

As above, it becomes extremely tough to answer when the team have been playing so poorly of late and there's no doubt styles and strengths will change under Steve Bruce.

Disregarding the last few weeks however and you wouldn't want to look any further than the defence. An England international goalkeeper sat behind an extremely experienced back-line is always going to provide a recipe for success.

Despite a recent sticky spell, the Baggies have still conceded less goals than anyone else in the Championship. A foundation as good as any for Bruce to build on.

West Brom’s weaknesses

There's no doubting that that comes up the other end of the field. The lack of goals in this Albion squad has been their downfall on more than one occasion this season.

Just 34 goals scored, six less than anyone else in the top six and 40 (FORTY) less than Fulham (which is a completely ludicrous number by the way).

Daryl Dike was brought in to fix the problem in January but got injured almost immediately and now free agent Andy Carroll is in the building in yet another attempt to help West Brom find the net more.

West Brom’s team news

That man Dike remains out with a long-term injury. Dara O'Shea, who himself is a long-term absentee, is back in training and got some minutes for the U23s this week but the game will come too soon for him.

Sam Johnstone should be recalled to the starting XI under Bruce following a fallout with the former manager and Semi Ajayi will also be back and available to start following his return from AFCON.

West Brom’s new manager

The fan reaction shocked me due to the number of positive responses more than anything. I fully expected a bit of a backlash but there was nothing of the such.

Many were just happy to see the back of Valerien Ismael and I think most also understand that Bruce has a really solid record when it comes to getting teams out of this division.

Like most football fans, the Albion faithful will judge on the success he brings to their club and not what he's done in the past.

As long as they see a change in style which includes positive thinking football with some form of identity, that will be a plus come 10pm Wednesday - regardless of the result.