West Brom v Everton
Thursday March 4, 18:00
Live on Sky Sports
Battling Baggies still look doomed
Although it had to be seen to be believed, West Brom won their first Premier League game at home since November at the weekend – against the ridiculously luckless Brighton.
The visitors had a perfectly good goal unfairly chalked off by a very confused Lee Mason and they managed to miss not one, but two penalty kicks, becoming the first side in Premier League history to miss two penalties by hitting the woodwork in a single game.
It was yet another game dominated but ultimately lost by the Seagulls with the xG reading West Brom 1.13, Brighton 3.14. So wacky was the result that West Brom boss, Sam Allardyce couldn’t help but chuckle when interviewed after the game.
“I’m just laughing because of how bizarre the game was, what happened during this game but obviously the most important thing for was a clean sheet.
“Lots of chances at both ends, we managed to get ours in and they managed not to score any of theirs.”
The result sees West Brom move six points clear of bottom club Sheffield United but they’re still nine points behind Newcastle and safety and they’re still only 1.091/11 to be relegated.
The Baggies host Newcastle on Sunday in a game that could be construed as a real six-pointer but first they meet Everton on Thursday night, looking for just their fourth win of the season and Allardyce is far from happy about the timing of the fixture, which was originally scheduled for March 20.
“If I don’t rest players on Thursday I will have to rest them on Sunday – that is an absolute fact – I’m having to think about both games not one.”
The grumbling continued as he maybe gave himself an early excuse.
“If we don’t get the results, I will get the blame for it but one thing’s for sure is that there is no need for this game on Thursday. There was another space where it could have been fitted in – just after the international break.
“Why couldn’t it happen then? It is totally and utterly bizarre from our point of view. It feels like a double kick in the teeth. It feels like we don’t want you in the Premier League, we aren’t bothered about you.”
What Allardyce doesn’t consider is Everton also have a fixture against Aston Villa that needs fitting in at some stage and that won’t be easy this season, especially if they get past Manchester City in the FA Cup.
Travelling Toffees a force to be reckoned with
Everton will travel to the Midlands on the back of two Premier League victories – 2-0 away to Liverpool and 1-0 at home to Southampton, as recently as Monday night, with Champions League qualification still in their own hands. Although currently only seventh in the table, should they win their game in hand, they’d climb back above West Ham, Chelsea and Liverpool to sit fourth.
That would be a huge bonus and quite a sizable surprise as they’re still trading at around 8.07/1 to finish inside the top-four but having also reached the quarter-finals of the F.A Cup, there’s little doubt they’re having a successful campaign under Carlos Ancelotti and the Goodison faithful must be wondering what could have been if they’d have found any sort of consistency at home.
Goodison is usually a very tough ground to go to but it’s been far from a fortress this season and the Toffees have performed far better on the road. They’ve won just five of 13 at home but eight of 12 on their travels.
As an indication of how much better they are on the road, Everton languish in 12th place in the Premier League Home table but are placed fourth in the Away table, behind the two Manchester clubs and Leicester.
Visitors value for another victory on the road
Under 2.5 is the favourite in the Under/Over 2.5 Goals market and I can see why. There have been less than three goals scored in each of West Brom’s last four Premier League games and in three of the last four featuring the Toffees.
The Baggies hadn’t kept a clean sheet in the Premier League since they beat the Blades 1-0 at home in November but Allardyce has tightened things up at the back of late and following their 0-0 draw at Burnley and their fortunate victory at the weekend, they’re now looking for their third in-a-row but Everton will take some keeping out.
The Toffees, who are in search of their sixth away win in seven in the Premier League, have found the net in all but one of their 12 away games and they’ve scored at least two in their last four away in the competition, so the chances of West Brom keeping their third clean sheet in-a-row in the Premier League since 2015 look decidedly slim.
West Brom have only won two of their 13 home games – against bottom club, Sheffield United, and Brighton on Saturday – and Everton have lost only two of their 12 away games this season. Back-to-back fixtures as long ago as October and November against Southampton and Newcastle. The omens look good for the visitors and so do the historic stats.
West Brom have won only one of their last 12 against Everton and the visitors are unbeaten at the Hawthorns in each of their last five visits (W3 D2). The Toffees have also won their last four away games against newly promoted opposition.
Allardyce having something to prove against his old club could be something for Baggies fans to cling to but that doesn’t really hold water either given he’s lost four of his last seven Premier League games against sides he’s formerly managed in the competition and Everton look a very fair bet at just a shade of odds-on.
At around 1.910/11, the Toffees are trading at the same price as Brighton were before their visit to West Brom on Saturday and that just looks wrong given their brilliant away form this season.