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Preview: Bournemouth vs. West Bromwich Albion - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday's Championship clash between Bournemouth and West Bromwich Albion, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The opening match of the 2021-22 Championship season will take place at the Vitality Stadium on Friday night, as Bournemouth welcome West Bromwich Albion for what should be an entertaining contest.

Bournemouth finished sixth in the second tier last season, ultimately losing to Brentford in the semi-finals of the playoffs, while West Brom were relegated back to this level from the Premier League.

Match preview

Fulham manager Scott Parker pictured in December 2020© Reuters

Bournemouth were good enough to secure a spot in last season's Championship playoffs, picking up 77 points from their 46 matches to claim sixth, but they fell at the semi-final stage of the playoffs, losing 3-2 on aggregate to Brentford, who managed to earn promotion to England's top flight.

Now under the leadership of Scott Parker, the Cherries will be expecting to challenge for promotion this term, and it will be fascinating to see whether the former Fulham manager can lead the club back into the Premier League during his first season at the helm.

Bournemouth only actually played three pre-season friendlies, beating Linense in Marbella on July 16 before suffering 2-1 defeats to Granada and Chelsea on July 19 and July 27 respectively.

The Cherries were in EFL Cup action on Saturday, though, and managed to progress to the second round courtesy of a 5-0 victory over MK Dons, with David Brooks, Dominic Solanke, Philip Billing and Christian Saydee on the scoresheet during an impressive performance.

It has been a relatively quiet summer for the club in terms of incomings, but Emiliano Marcondes and Leif Davis have both arrived, and more new faces are expected to arrive before the transfer window closes.

Barnsley manager Valerien Ismael pictured in October 2020© Reuters

West Brom, meanwhile, also have a new face at the helm, with Valerien Ismael, who impressed at Barnsley during the 2020-21 campaign, replacing Sam Allardyce as head coach for the 2021-22 campaign.

The Baggies found it difficult to compete in last season's Premier League, ultimately picking up just 26 points from their 38 matches to finish 19th, which saw them relegated alongside Fulham and Sheffield United.

West Brom, like Bournemouth, will be expected to challenge for a spot in England's top flight next term, and they have managed to bring Adam Reach, Alex Mowatt and Matt Clarke to the Hawthorns this summer.

The Baggies have played four pre-season friendlies, beating Woking and Sheffield Wednesday before being held to a goalless draw with Watford on July 24.

Ismael's side then thumped Birmingham City 4-0 on Saturday, and it is a tough start to the new campaign for West Brom, taking on Bournemouth, Luton Town and Sheffield United in their opening three fixtures.

Bournemouth form (all competitions):
  • W

West Bromwich Albion form (all pre-season):
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Team News

West Bromwich Albion forward Matheus Pereira pictured in January 2021© Reuters

Bournemouth will be without the services of Chris Mepham and Jefferson Lerma on Friday night through suspension, while Steve Cook and Jack Stacey are expected to miss out through injury.

The Cherries are also unlikely to be able to call upon Davis, Ben Pearson or Arnaut Danjuma, meaning that Parker's squad will be far from at full strength for their league opener.

Solanke and Brooks should both start in the final third of the field, while there are also expected to be spots in the starting XI for Billing, Jordan Zemura and Junior Stanislas, with Gavin Kilkenny retaining his midfield position.

As for West Brom, Ismael has revealed that new signing Reach will not be involved in the clash with Bournemouth, as he builds his fitness following a move from Sheffield Wednesday.

Youngsters Quevin Castro and Taylor Gardner-Hickman are also out with injuries.

There should be a debut for Mowatt, though, while Sam Johnstone could start between the sticks despite suggestions that he will be leaving the club before the end of the transfer window.

Matheus Pereira is pushing for an exit and is not expected to be considered for selection here, but the likes of Matt Phillips, Karlan Grant and Grady Diangana should feature in attacking areas.

Bournemouth possible starting lineup:
Travers; Zemura, Rossi, Kelly, Smith; Billing, Marcondes, Kilkenny; Brooks, Solanke, Stanislas

West Bromwich Albion possible starting lineup:
Johnstone; O'Shea, Bartley, Ajayi; Furlong, Mowatt, Livermore, Townsend; Phillips, Grant, Diangana

SM words green background

We say: Bournemouth 1-1 West Bromwich Albion

This is a very difficult game to call, particularly as there are a number of unknowns entering the new campaign. Both managers will be desperate to get off to a perfect start, but a point would not be the end of the world for either side, and we can see the pair playing out a cagey 1-1 draw at the Vitality Stadium.

Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data

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Bournemouth's Dominic Solanke celebrates scoring their second goal against MK Dons in the EFL Cup on July 31, 2021
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Scott Parker hails "positive sign" as Bournemouth thrash MK Dons
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