West Brom v Leeds
Tuesday December 29, 18:00
Live on Amazon Prime
Big Sam gives Baggies hope
After a dozen games back in the top-flight following their promotion last season, West Brom had secured just one win, at home to bottom club, Sheffield United, and the decision was made to sack manager, Slaven Bilic, before last week’s stoic 1-1 draw at Manchester City.
Bilic had only been in charge for 18 months, following the club’s questionable decision to sack Darren Moore, but the board have been ruthless again – lining up Bilic’s replacement, Sam Allardyce, before the Baggies even took to the field at the Etihad.
Allardyce’s first game in charge, just days after his appointment, was a disappointing 3-0 defeat at home to in-form Aston Villa and they were made to work hard defensively by the champions, Liverpool, in the first half at Anfield on Sunday evening but after going 1-0 down after 12 minutes, they stayed in the game, reorganised at half time and equalised in the 83rd minute via a Semi Ajayi header for a deserved point.
Liverpool certainly weren’t at their best but they still enjoyed 84% possession in the first half and it was noticeable how much better the Baggies were after the break. A delighted Allardyce had this to say at fulltime.
“We’ve got a point against Liverpool, which no-one outside of us in the dressing room thought we’d get. When the first goal went in I think a lot of people thought how many was it going to be today, particularly after they knocked seven past Palace (last weekend).
“The players were so good today in their discipline, defending as a team, and finding a way in the second half to attack Liverpool when they got the opportunity.”
The 1-1 draw at the Etihad could have been considered as merely one last hoorah for the old boss, whereas the Anfield draw can be viewed as a great start under the new one and although they’re still five points from safety and trading at 1.434/9 for the drop, there is now hope.
Inconsistent Leeds impossible to predict
Since gaining promotion last season alongside West Brom, Leeds have been as entertaining in the Premier League as they were expected to be but they’re an extremely difficult side to predict.
Marcelo’s Whites have beaten Aston Villa and Everton away and they’ve stuck five past Newcastle and four past Fulham but they’ve also chucked in some strange results.
Immediately after leaving Villa Park with all three points, following a convincing 3-0 win in October, they lost 4-1 at home to Leicester and 4-1 away to Crystal Palace and they again advertised their propensity for the stark turnaround just before Christmas when losing 6-2 to Manchester United in the game that followed their 5-2 win against Newcastle.
The only time all season they’ve won back-to-back Premier League games was in their second and third matches when they beat Fulham at home 4-3 and Sheffield United away 1-0 in September and that again advertises how hard it is to gauge what they’re going to do next. A rollercoaster seven-goal thriller followed by a tight affair.
Nothing highlights Leeds’ inconsistency better than the fact that they’ve kept five clean sheets so far this season, but they’ve conceded 30 goals. Only their opponents, West Brom, have let in as many.
Having clung on against Burnley on Sunday to edge out the Clarets 1-0, after an early Patrick Bamford penalty, the Whites head to the Hawthorns in search of back-to-back victories and a place in the top half of the table.
Goals on the agenda if the stats can be believed
As already stated, Leeds are very hard to predict but with both sides conceding as many as 30 goals so far this season, the market is right to make Over odds-on in the Over/Under 2.5 Goals market and the stats back that up. There have been at least three goals scored in 57% of West Brom’s home games this season and in 57% of Leeds’ away matches but the stats suggest the odds-on for Yes in the Both Teams to Score market may be wrong.
Both teams have scored in only 29% of West Brom home games and in 57% of Leeds’ away matches so No at in excess of 6/4 could be the play there but I’m more than happy to leave the market alone.
The Baggies with money back the way to go
Having been matched at odds-on before West Brom’s draw at Anfield, Leeds have drifted to 2.1011/10 in the outright market with the Baggies hardening up at around 3.711/4. The visitors have already won three times on the road but given West Brom’s very encouraging performance in the second half against Liverpool, taking such a short price on such an inconsistent outfit as the Whites makes no appeal and the stats suggest it would be a wrong move too.
West Brom have lost just one of their last six home league games against Leeds and the Whites have only won their final league game in one of the last 10 calendar years.
Although they’ve only won once this season, after draws away against the two teams most likely to win the league, West Brom are a tempting price at home at getting on for 3/1 but backing the Baggies with the insurance of money back for a stalemate feels like a safer option.
Having demonstrated in no uncertain terms just how hard Big Sam’s side might be to break down going forward, West Brom at 2.829/5 in the Draw no Bet market looks like the way to go here.