West Brom V Everton (FINAL SCORE 0:1)
Sunday, 1 January 2012 – 12:30 GMT (LIVE on SKY SPORTS)
Barclay’s Premier League
Two of the Premier League’s bluntest attacks clash at The Hawthorns on New Year’s Day in the very first top flight encounter of 2012, with West Brom and Everton hopefully putting on a show for Sky Sports viewers – although, I wouldn’t hold your breath.
Perhaps this won’t be the curtain raiser to the new year that we all hope for, but at the very minimum we should get a very competitive affair between two teams who rarely lack commitment. The problem is, neither are accomplished in the final third meaning goals are likely to be at a premium.
Only Wigan have netted fewer than Everton (18) this season, who have had issues with scoring for the past two to three seasons now, whilst Roy Hodgson’s Baggies have only plundered one solitary goal more than those toothless Toffees.
So, it would be easy to simply plump for the draw, possibly even a goalless one. Instead, however, I see value in the hosts, who I make favourites for this contest for several reasons. The first being their current form, the second their strikeforce.
Although both teams go into the game unbeaten in their last three matches, it is West Brom who host this fixture with all the momentum having recorded back-to-backs away wins over Blackburn (1-2) and Newcastle (2-3) before holding leaders Manchester City, who have averaged three goals per game so far this season, to a goalless draw at home.
Of course, it would be ignorant of me not to mention the fact the Baggies have lost five of nine at The Hawthorns this season, but many of those were against tough opponents: Liverpool (0-2), Man Utd (1-2) and Tottenham (1-3).
Everton, meanwhile, could only muster a 1-1 draw at home to Norwich before edging past Swansea (1-0), also on home soil. In their last match, away to Sunderland, there was little doubt they deserved something from the game, but they were incredibly fortunate in the end to leave Wearside with a share of the spoils courtesy of an outrageous referring decision from Howard Webb.
Moreover, David Moyes still hasn’t found a solution to his side’s scoring woes. Even in this encouraging three-match unbeaten run of theirs they’ve only managed a paltry sum of goals, three in total (just three in their last five now), with their leading marksmen for the term being full-back Leighton Baines – and all three of his goals came from the penalty spot.
A lack of options up front, or should I say quality, is holding Everton back at the minute. I bet David Moyes is kicking himself after letting Yakubu move to Blackburn in the summer, with the experienced Nigerian goal-getter having scored twelve goals for his new employers this term.
In contrast, Roy Hodgson does posses quality up front; strikers with goals in them – and that is what clinches the deal for me.
Shane Long has made the step up to Premier League football with consummate ease, scoring five times, though it is his tireless work rate and endeavour which has endeared him to the Baggies faithful. Then there’s Peter Odemwingie, their top scorer last season with 15 goals; he has four for the season.
As solid and well-organised as Everton generally are, it’s difficult envisaging them penetrating a team just as well-drilled as West Brom. A resolute outfit who held the most prolific team the Premier League has ever seen to a 0-0 draw last time out. You’d expect nothing less from a Roy Hodgson team. The important difference being, West Brom have goals in them, in their strikers, whereas Everton, quite simply, do not.
Also, West Brom did the double over Everton last season, scoring FOUR at Goodison in a 4-1 success and 1-0 at The Hawthorns. Their scorer that day, Youssouf Mulumbu, is out injured, but so is Everton’s Marouane Fellani. Jack Rodwell is also doubtful for the visitors, while loan signing Landon Donovan is ineligible.
Recommended Bet: West Brom to WIN @ 13/8 Boylesports
Value Punt: West Brom to WIN to NIL @ 10/3 VictorChandler
January 1st, 2012 / Matt - Category: Premier League Tips