With 24 more points available in the 2008-2009 season, I hesitate to say that next weekend’s match with Stoke City is a must-win for West Bromwich Albion for its hopes for avoiding the drop.

But it really is.

The Baggies are rooted to the bottom of the table with 24 points with eight matches to go and any hopes for survival start at The Hawthorns on April 4 against the Potters.

Why is this match so important? It’s one of the best chances at three points left on the schedule.

West Brom’s remaining games

  • April 4 – Stoke City
  • April 11 – at Portsmouth
  • April 18 – at Manchester City
  • April 25– Sunderland
  • May 2 – at Tottenham 
  • May 9 – Wigan
  • May 16 – Liverpool
  • May 24 – at Blackburn Rovers

As you can see, the push for the finish line is not exactly littered with chances for West Brom. But a win against Stoke – and it would be the first in six years – would serve as a confidence booster ahead of a relegation six-pointer at Fratton Park against Pompey the following weekend.

Midfielder Robert Koren hasn’t given up on his team’s chances of survival, telling the official team Web site on Tuesday that, “the next game against Stoke is very important. If we can get three points I think the fight will be open again.”

I tend to agree. Getting points on the road against Man City, Spurs or Blackburn will be tough. But three points at home after the international break will breathe life into a season that’s a bit lacking in that department at the moment.
It will probably take somewhere in the neighborhood of 37 points to stay up this season, so the Baggies have quite a bit of work to do.
But after Fulham’s great escape last year, anything is possible.
A win against the Potters keeps hope alive.
Anything less, and the trap door opens a bit wider.