Opposition in Focus: West Brom

As Exeter City make their second appearance in the Third Round if the FA Cup in three years, Man behind the Mask Dan Gottschalk takes a look at the Grecians’ Premier League opponents.

Season in focus:

Having not won in their last 20 attempts, West Bromwich Albion will be heading into the Cup tie at St James Park hoping to return to winning ways. 

Manager Alan Pardew has only been in charge at the Hawthorns since November and has struggled to make an impact on the Baggies so far with the club languishing in the league, sitting above bottom club Swansea only by goal difference. 

West Brom still enter this tie as odds-on hot favourites to progress however, their last win coming against the Grecians’ fellow League Two promotion hopefuls Accrington Stanley in August of last year. 

The tie will also mark Alan Pardew’s managerial return to the FA Cup, his last game on charge of a side in the competition came in May 2016 when he guided Crystal Palace to the final of the competition at Wembley. Palace were bested by Manchester United that day with the game having gone to extra-time, a game perhaps most remembered by Pardew’s trademark touchline dance when his side took the lead through Jason Puncheon. 

Pardew however has had less luck in the FA Cup against teams from the fourth tier of English football. In his last five FA Cup games against fourth tier sides, Pardew has been knocked out four times, the most recent of these defeats coming against Stevenage in 2011 while Pardew was Newcastle boss. 

Ones to watch: 

In his pre-match interviews, West Brom manager Alan Pardew has stressed the importance of this tie for his side and pledged to field a strong starting line-up. 

Baggies favourites Nacer Chadli, Matt Phillips, James Morrison and Craig Dawson are all ruled out of the game with injuries. With their strength in depth however, it shouldn’t be too difficult for the West Midlands club to field a side packed with quality, we take a look at some of the big names who could feature here. 

Gareth Barry
At the age of 36, Gareth Barry is a seasoned professional in the game and it is no surprise that he is still playing at the top level of the English game. 

The central midfielder from Hastings is the all time record holder of appearances in the Premier League having taken the title off of former Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs earlier this season. 

With 53 caps for England under his belt and 3 international goals, Barry has already won the FA Cup in his career, lifting the trophy in 2011 for Manchester City.

Barry’s nephew Bradley Barry is also a professional footballer and the 22 year old right back currently represents fellow League Two side Chesterfield. 

Jake Livermore
West Brom’s match against Exeter will be the second time that dominant central midfielder Jake Livermore has visited SJP in two years, having played for Hull against the Grecians in the EFL Cup last season.

Coming through Tottenham’s youth academy and after spending a number of seasons out on loan, Livermore has played some of the best football in his career so far in the past couple of seasons, building a reputation as a strong and dependable unit in the middle of the park. 

This form hasn’t gone unnoticed and Livermore made his first international start for England in March last year. Having earned seven caps so far in his career, the 28 year old from Enfield will be hoping to impress England manager Gareth Southgate and earn a call up to this summers World Cup in Russia. 

Oliver Burke
Starting his career with Nottingham Forest, right winger Oliver Burke is eager to find his feet back in English football with West Brom. 

In the summer of 2016, a 19 year old Burke made headlines when he made a huge summer transfer to German side RB Leipzig for £13 million, a record fee for a Scottish player. 

After making 26 appearances for the Bundesliga outfit last season and helping his side to a second placed finish in the league, Burke moved back to English football, this time with West Brom and may well get his chance to make an impression on new boss Alan Pardew having made only five appearances so far this season. 

Last time out:

Exeter City and West Brom have never actually faced each other in the FA Cup. 

The last time these two sides faced off was in fact 25 years ago when Exeter hosted the Baggies in January 1993 at St James Park.

Then managed by legend of the game Ossie Ardilles, West Brom edged out a close encounter to walk away 3-2 winners, not knowing that they wouldn’t return to SJP for another quarter of a century.