West Brom welcome the ‘other Albion’ to The Hawthorns on Saturday in a meeting deemed too important to lose.
The inability to see off Brighton is a scenario that many Baggies supporters daren’t even contemplate.
The reversal of this dire run of form, dating back to August and to be forced down the throats of the Albion faithful reading this just one more time, quite simply needs to begin this weekend.
That Albion are just four points adrift despite enduring a run of 20 league games without a win is rather damning of the quality in the division.
Albion had plenty of success at home to other mid-table sides last season; in fact they saw off seven of the ten sides that finished below them.
The welcoming of Chris Hughton’s Seagulls kicks off a pretty pivotal sequence of home matches at B71 which will likely prove to be make or break for Albion this season.
Following on from Brighton, the Baggies will entertain Southampton, Huddersfield, Leicester, Burnley and Swansea before mid-April.
Results in these fixtures will likely dictate whether Albion have a fighting chance, are out of sight or clear of danger before the final handful of matches.
Here we take a look at each of those opponents.
BRIGHTON AND HOVE ALBION
Defeat at the AMEX back in September arguably was the beginning of this wretched run of form for Albion.
Brighton comfortably disposed of Tony Pulis’ side that day.
Chris Hughton’s recruitment in the summer demonstrated his and the club’s knowledge of the European market; Jose Izquierdo, Davy Propper and Pascal Gross have all made positive contributions.
Tough to beat at home, the Seagulls haven’t been able to repeat that form on the road. They’ve lost seven of eleven away matches this season.
After Brighton fellow south coast outfit Southampton visit, at the beginning of February.
They’ve won the last two meetings 1-0, but generally Saints boss Mauricio Pellegrino is under fire.
Albion’s run is awful, but Southampton’s isn’t much better; they’ve won just one of their last 13.
Their only away win of the season came at Crystal Palace back in September.
Recruitment wise, Saints brought in Mario Lemina and Wesley Hoedt in the summer, and more recently sold Virgil Van Dijk to Liverpool.
Perhaps the side in the top flight this season that was expected the least of, Town are making a real fist of survival heading into the second half of the campaign.
The energetic David Wagner and enthusiastic John Smith’s Stadium crowd have helped propel the Terriers to the top of the bottom half, and they look well placed to secure survival.
Signing Tom Ince, Aaron Mooy, Jonas Lossl and Elias Kachunga, among others, represented good business.
They’ve won just two of eleven on the road this season though.
Arguably Albion’s toughest test of the group of six sides comes when the Foxes visit in March.
Leicester have dragged themselves away from danger under the guidance of Claude Puel and look as dangerous a side on the road as they’ve been in recent seasons.
Their return of 13 points from a possible 33 on the road this term might be deemed average, but they’ve won each of their last three visits to The Hawthorns.
Nacer Chadli scored a wonderful free-kick in the reverse fixture - with any luck, he’ll have returned from injury by the time this match comes about.
Sean Dyche’s side are having a wonderful season - not too dissimilar to three quarters of Albion’s previous campaign.
They’ve been as difficult to beat as ever at Turf Moor (indeed, Albion’s victory there in August looks week on week to be a most impressive result) but Burnley have managed to earn points against the division’s traditional bigger clubs on the road, too.
They recruited modestly, picking up the likes of Chris Wood, Jon Walters, Phil Bardsley and Jack Cork.
Albion can take confidence, at least, from the fact they’ve put four past the Clarets on each of their last two visits to The Hawthorns.
The only side - at the time of writing - who are below Albion in the Premier League table arrive in the Black Country in early April for a game that is already of seismic importance.
A depressing defeat in Alan Pardew’s second game in charge gave Paul Clement a little solace, before the Swans parted with him a matter of weeks later.
Carlos Carvalhal was victorious at Watford in his first match in charge.
Swansea have won two more matches than Albion this season so far, but have lost four more.
Suppose you could call this a “six-pointer”.