Barnsley held by Huddersfield
Barnsley are still searching for their first victory under new boss Poya Asbaghi after sharing the spoils with Huddersfield at a rain-sodden Oakwell last Saturday. The Reds fell behind in the 33rd minute but levelled proceedings on the stroke of half-time when the lively Carlton Morris netted his first goal of the season in a 1-1 stalemate.
Morris was a consistent threat for the Tykes, although Huddersfield had the better chances to snatch top honours, winning the shot count 18-12 and landing seven on-target efforts. The visitors also hit the woodwork as Barnsley failed to succeed for the 20th time in 22 Championship attempts this season, leaving the home side eight points adrift of safety.
Despite the disappointment of a draw, Asbaghi was pleased with his players application, saying: "Overall, even if we're disappointed with not winning, we are learning things step by step and today is a much better game than we played before. When you look at the game and especially the first half, we can be happy with the development of the team."
West Brom dominant in Royals success
West Brom have posted back-to-back Championship victories to move within three points of second-placed Bournemouth. Albion followed up their 2-1 triumph at Coventry by overcoming Reading 1-0 at The Hawthorns last weekend, extending the second-tier's only unbeaten home record to 11 matches thanks to Callum Robinson's second-half winner.
The Covid-hit Baggies only played after being refused permission by the English Football League to postpone the fixture. WBA - missing defenders Matt Clarke, Semi Ajayi and Conor Townsend through coronavirus and midfielder Grady Diangana through illness - wasted chances in a dominated display, winning the shot count 25-4, landing 11 attempts on-target.
Head coach Val Ismael hailed his side post-match, describing it as: "A real team spirit performance. Togetherness. A desire to overcome the current situation. We had a very difficult week. As soon as we heard that the EFL said we have to play, we were focused. We controlled the game throughout. And we should have scored more goals."
Barnsley and West Brom have returned an equal W4-D4-L4 split in head-to-head meetings this century in the Championship, with the past three match-ups in the league ending all-square. However, the Tykes do boast an impressive home record against Albion and come into this contest unbeaten here against the Baggies since 1947 (W9-D9-L0).
Barnsley 5.104/1 have struggled to hit last season's heights and enter the busy festive period with only two triumphs to their name in the Championship. The Reds are second-bottom on Expected Points (xP), and Expected Goals (xG) ratio, whilst comfortably giving away the most Big Chances in the division. The Tykes have earned only three clean sheets thus far.
West Brom 1.834/5 have posted successive Championship wins for only the second time since August, although the majority of the Baggies' best work has been done at The Hawthorns. Albion have W4-D3-L4 on their travels but have dropped only two points in six encounters with bottom-seven outfits. WBA have conceded just twice in 11 against the bottom-half.
Neither Barnsley nor West Brom have been amongst the Championship's chief entertainers in 2021/22. The Tykes' tussles have produced Over 2.5 Goals profit in only 8/22 (38%) games with matches averaging just 2.23 goals, whereas Albion have hit the lower Over 1.5 Goals bracket in 13/22 (59%) and returned a goals per-game average at 2.14.
With that in mind, plus the fact the duo have combined to see 36/44 (82%) of their collective contests feature Under 3.5 Goals, I'm happy to side with West Brom to win and Under 3.5 Goals here at kind 2.3811/8 quotes. The visitors' have impressed against the league's lesser lights and arrive having seen a maximum of one goal in five of their past six outings.