EPL Season Preview: West Bromwich Albion

Team: West Bromwich Albion Football Club

Nicknames: The Baggies, West Brom, the Throstles

Location: West Bromwich (West Midlands, England)

Stadium:The Hawthorns (Capacity: 26,500)

Last Year's Record:

Championship: 2nd place, automatic promotion to Premier League

League Cup: Third Round, lost to Arsenal

FA Cup: Fifth Round, lost to Reading

Manager: Roberto Di Matteo is in his second year at West Brom following a successful stint at Milton Keynes Dons. Di Matteo had an excellent playing career, first in Switzerland with Zurich and Araau, then in Italy and with Lazio and finally in England with Chelsea. Di Matteo began preparing to become a manager well before the end of his playing career and to go from League One to the Premiership in the space of two years is quite an achievement.

Brief History: West Bromwich Albion F.C. were founded in 1878 and were an original member of the Football League. A respectable first division club for the majority of their history, they have won the FA Cup five times (most recently in 1968,) the League Cup once (1966) and the First Division once (1919-1920.) The Baggies began a deep slide in the 1980s. West Brom were relegated from the First Division in 1986 and fell as far as the Third Division in 1990; they would not see the Premier League again until 2001. Since that time West Brom have bounced back and forth between the Championship since then; in 2004/05 they became the first ever team to stay up after being at the bottom of the Premier League table on Christmas Day.

Rivalries: Aston Villa are West Brom's fiercest rival historically (although nowhere near as fierce as the Second City Derby, especially where Villa supporters are concerned) but in more recent years have developed an intense rivalry with Wolverhampton. Matches between West Brom and Wolves are referred to as the Black Country Derby.

Players to Watch: 23 year old Scottish international Graham Dorrans is the Baggies most potent offensive player and was the target of much rumored interest amongst Premier League clubs during both the January and current off-season transfer windows. Dorrans signed a four-year contract with West Brom on July 19th, 2010 which put a rest to most of the speculation. A creative and dynamic midfielder, Dorrans will be crucial to the Baggies chances of staying up.

Center Back and Vice-Captain Jonas Olsson is known for a brash, physical style of play and fiery displays of emotion on the pitch. At times he even turned his anger towards supporters, although the West Brom faithful seem to realize that his volatile nature is part of the package and Olsson has repeatedly apologized. In addition to being entertaining in an extra-curricular fashion Olsson is a talented defender and while he is certainly physical, he has improved his discipline since his younger days when, in 2004, he was cautioned more than any other player in Sweden.

West Brom are captained by 24 year old goalkeeper Scott Carson, formerly of Liverpool. Carson was loaned to Aston Villa during the 2007/08 and played in 35 games as the club's first choice keeper. Widely considered to be a potential future Number One for the English National Team, Carson has been capped for the senior team three times.

A Villa Fan Says: "We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day."

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