West Bromwich Albion play host to Preston North End on Wednesday evening with the opportunity to strengthen their position in the Championship playoffs.
Meanwhile, Preston make the trip to The Hawthorns on a three-match winless streak, the visitors now sitting in 15th place in the standings.
Although West Brom have spent much of the campaign in the top six, Valerien Ismael found himself under increasing pressure ahead of last weekend’s home fixture against Peterborough United.
However, the Baggies were able to end a five-match winless streak in all competitions, scoring three goals in the final 12 minutes to claim an important three points in their quest for promotion.
While West Brom still only occupy fifth position, it was a much-needed step in the right direction, and they are now just four points adrift of second-placed Bournemouth.
With Fulham having surged clear of the chasing pack, runners-up is the most realistic target, and Ismael will feel that it is achievable if his frontmen can find some consistency.
Daryl Dike is still taking time to settle since his return to English football, but Karlan Grant netted his first goal since December 4 against Posh.
Opponents Preston have marginally improved since the appointment of Ryan Lowe, who has collected eight points from his five Championship games.
However, North End have now failed to win in four fixtures, Lowe’s side going down by a 1-0 scoreline at Swansea City on Saturday afternoon.
Despite their two-goal comeback with 10 men against Sheffield United still being fresh in the memory, Lowe is aware that they can ill-afford more games without success if they want to make a late challenge for the playoffs.
On a more positive note, Aston Villa youngster Cameron Archer has arrived on loan, a transfer which has the potential to be one of the best in the second tier during the January window.
West Bromwich Albion Championship form:
West Bromwich Albion form (all competitions):
Preston North End Championship form:
Preston North End form (all competitions):
We say: West Bromwich Albion 2-1 Preston North End
Given their position in the table, Preston may feel that they can throw caution to the wind at The Hawthorns. Nevertheless, we still feel that the Baggies will do just enough to claim all three points, potentially edging a close game by the odd goal in three.