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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Darren Moore is doing a fine job at West Brom

Five things we learned from the weekend

West Brom caretaker manager Darren Moore
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1 Moore fight about West Brom since Darren took charge
West Brom look certain to be relegated but they are unbeaten in three games under Darren Moore and are giving their fans hope that next season might be a more enjoyable experience.

The Sky Bet Championship can be an unforgiving environment, as Sunderland have found out, but Albion have the nucleus of a squad which could be highly competitive in the second tier.

It all depends on getting the right permanent manager in and convincing enough of their better players to stay.

Appointing Moore on a longer-term deal would be a gamble but his short-term impact has been undeniable.

Albion were deserving 1-0 winners at Manchester United and played with plenty of intelligence and tenacity to claim a fully merited 2-2 draw against Liverpool on Saturday.

The drop could be confirmed when Albion travel to Newcastle at the weekend but Moore's side are unlikely to be a pushover in any of their three remaining games.

2 Wolves are still hungry
Another part of the Black Country was celebrating on Saturday night as Wolves clinched the Championship title with a 4-0 victory at Bolton.

Promotion had been secured the previous weekend but there was no loss of focus from Nuno Espirito Santo's side, who are 12 points clear of second-placed Cardiff.

Talk of summer transfer targets has started but the players seem determined to hold on to the shirts and they gave their manager a nudge with the assured performance against Bolton – a team fighting for survival.

Wolves cannot quite reach the second tier record 106-point total set by Reading in 2005-06 but they are likely to sign off with victories at home to Sheffield Wednesday and away to Sunderland.

Everton v Newcastle preview

Bookies struggle to split Man United and Chelsea for FA Cup

3 Bees could provide a sting in the tail
Brentford failed to win any of their opening eight matches of the season but have recovered superbly and will be serious promotion contenders if they can gatecrash the top six.

Dean Smith's side are up to eighth – their highest position of the season – and just one point behind sixth-placed Millwall, who lost 3-0 at home to Fulham on Friday.

Throughout the season they have played some excellent football without always getting consistent results.

But they are unbeaten in seven after Saturday's 2-1 win at home to QPR and will be a team to fear if they can extend their season.

4 Forestieri has been missed
Sheffield Wednesday know all about the playoffs having contested them in the last two seasons, but they have fallen well short this term after being hampered by several long-term injuries.

Key midfielders Sam Hutchinson and Kieran Lee have been regulars in the treatment room but perhaps the biggest miss has been attacker Fernando Forestieri, who was sidelined from August to March.

Forestieri completed his second full 90 minutes of the campaign in Saturday's 3-0 win at home to Reading and was the star of the show with two goals, one of them an outstanding individual effort.

The 28-year-old is a massive player for the Owls and will need to stay fit if they are to challenge next season.

5 Shrews set for playoff struggle
It can be hard for teams who narrowly miss out on automatic promotion and there are early warning signs that Shrewsbury - likely third-place finishers in Sky Bet League One - may struggle in the playoffs.

Shrewsbury have picked up injuries at the wrong time of the season and are sorely missing captain Abu Ogogo, who has been ruled out for the season with a medial knee ligament injury.

They drew 1-1 at home to relegated Bury on Saturday and will have to play a lot better if their promotion dream is to be realised.

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Appointing Moore on a longer-term deal would be a gamble but his short-term impact has been undeniable
E.W. Terms
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