Preview: West Bromwich Albion vs. Cardiff City

Cardiff manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prior to kick-off against Swansea during their Premier League match on February 8, 2014
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Sports Mole previews a massive clash between two clubs deep in the Premier League relegation mire as West Bromwich Albion and Cardiff City meet at The Hawthorns.

Pepe Mel and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer both face the biggest game of their brief Premier League managerial lives on Saturday as West Bromwich Albion meet Cardiff City.

The two clubs decided to make changes in the dugout during the middle of the season, and now find themselves deep in relegation trouble with seven games remaining.

They have each slipped down the table since swapping bosses, with the Baggies having only won once under Mel, who was a surprise appointment when he took over more than a month after Steve Clarke's sacking.

A 2-0 defeat to Hull City last weekend, partially inflicted by former striker Shane Long, left them 16th and only three points above the drop zone ahead of an old-fashioned 'six-pointer' against Cardiff.

The Bluebirds are one of the teams currently occupying the three relegation spots, and have a worse goal difference than their rivals, but victory this weekend could see them move level on points with West Brom.

They will take heart from giving Merseyside duo Everton and Liverpool scares in recent weeks, but a defence which has kept only two clean sheets in 16 top-flight games will be a concern to Solskjaer.

With Mark Hudson and Andrew Taylor still sidelined, the former Manchester United striker could stick with the same back five that played at Anfield, but is expected to make changes in attack.

Considering it is arguably a must-win game for Cardiff, Solskjaer may turn to the enigmatic Wilfried Zaha from the start, or pair Keywyne Jones alongside Frazier Campbell in a two-man strike force.

Craig Noone is missing after picking up a muscle strain, but another of their creative players, Jordan Mutch, should start and is in fine form after scoring a brace against the Reds last Saturday.

Gareth McAuley and Victor Anichebe both face late fitness tests after limping off against Hull, and Chris Brunt, Claudio Yacob and Billy Jones are all definitely out of the game at The Hawthorns.

There could be a recall up front for either Matej Vyrda or Saido Berahino, with Espanyol loanee Thievy making way, while midfielder Graham Dorrans could continue his longest run in the team this season.

Recent form

West Brom: LWLDDL

Cardiff: LLWLLL

Possible starting lineups

West Brom: Foster; Reid, Dawson, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Morrison, Dorrans; Sessegnon, Berahino, Anichebe

Cardiff: Marshall; Fabio, Cala, Caulker, Theophile-Catherine, John; Medel, Kim, Mutch; Zaha, Campbell

Sports Mole says: 1-2

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