Promotion hopefuls Brentford welcome Championship leaders West Brom to Griffin Park on Friday night. Mark O'Haire sets the scene and recommends a bet...
"With the prize and pressure of the promotion race, plus the lack of match sharpness prevalent following one competitive outing, it may pay to again oppose goals"
Brentford v West Brom
Friday June 26, 19:45
Brentford bag derby bragging rights
Late goals from Said Benrahma and Emiliano Marcondes saw Brentford beat promotion rivals Fulham as the Championship made its return last Saturday. The Bees bagged a 2-0 triumph at Craven Cottage despite the absence of 14-goal forward Bryan Mbeumo, who was forced to miss the match after testing positive for coronavirus.
Thomas Frank's side started brightly, pressed high and had the better of a contest that was high on endeavour. The Bees saw their woodwork struck in the first-half, although January signing Tariqe Fosu, top scorer Ollie Watkins and Christian Norgaard all went close. The introduction of Marcondes off the bench with 20 minutes then proved decisive.
The Dane's low cross for Benrahma set up the victory before his composure on the break sealed a crucial three points as Frank's troops continue their push for a place in the top flight for the first time since 1947. Mbeumo remains a doubt for Friday night and the Bees boss isn't expected to make many changes to his starting XI here.
West Brom held at home
West Brom boss Slaven Bilic was made to rue a "missed opportunity" as the Baggies returned with a dreary 0-0 draw against neighbours Birmingham at The Hawthorns last weekend. With fellow promotion hopefuls Leeds and Fulham falling to defeat, Albion were unable to completely capitalise despite retaking the Championship lead.
Bilic's boys fired in 21 attempts against a badly weakened Blues side, although the hosts managed just one effort on-target across the entire 90 minutes as Birmingham arguably enjoyed the two best openings at goal, forcing West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone into saves. Matheus Pereira was Albion's rare bright spark in an otherwise forgettable performance.
Post-match, Bilic said: "I'm not happy. Of course, it was a missed opportunity. We deserved to win but you have to be good enough in the final product. The number of shots and crosses we had were extremely high. But it comes down to sharpness. You need matches to get sharp." Grady Diangana and Charlie Austin will be hoping for recalls to the starting XI.
Baggies struggling for consistency
Brentford are winless in seven league games against West Brom (W0-D3-L4) since a 1-0 win way back in February 1948. The Bees have been beaten in both of their last two Griffin Park games against the Baggies, though those games were separated by just over 27 years (October 1991 and March 2019) with recent head-to-head history largely irrelevant.
Brentford 2.3811/8 have taken 26 points from their last 11 home Championship matches (W8-D2-L1), whilst only Leeds and Derby can boast a better points per-game return as hosts across the campaign. Thomas Frank's troops have pocketed W3-D3-L1 when welcoming top-10 rivals this term and are also ranked second when viewing underlying performance data.
West Brom 3.1511/5 comfortably possess the division's best away record (W11-D6-L2) with the Championship table-toppers posting W3-D2-L2 at the top-10 thus far. However, Albion head into this match-up having fired blanks in each of their last three outings, and taking top honours in only five of their past 16 (W5-D7-L4) league encounters since mid-December.
Brentford are usually synonymous with goals but the Bees' battles with the division's elite haven't always followed suit. The capital club have seen all eight contests with fellow top-six clubs bank in the Under 2.5 Goals (1.80) column with those fixtures featuring an average of just 1.50 goals. Even so, the hosts have scored in 11/12 home games here against the top-15.
West Brom have seen fewer than three goals in six of eight encounters against teams currently occupying the play-off places, whilst seven of their 10 trips to the top-13 have also delivered Under 2.5 Goals. The Baggies have impressively kept five clean sheets in those 10 tussles, managing to also silence six of their most recent nine Championship opponents.
With the prize and pressure of the promotion race hanging over the two clubs, plus the lack of match sharpness prevalent following one competitive outing, it may pay to again oppose goals on Friday night at Griffin Park.
Mark's 2019/20 Profit/Loss
Staked: 140.00 pts
Returned: 157.57 pts
P/L: +17.57 pts