West Brom v Birmingham: Baggies backed to down the Blues

Valerien Ismael - West Brom
West Brom have gone off as strong favourites in their last 10 outings

The Championship returns on Friday night as high-flying West Brom entertain West Midlands rivals Birmingham at The Hawthorns. Mark O'Haire shares his views.

"The Baggies are inside the top-three for all the major performance data metrics and have pocketed W4-D2-L0 against bottom-half teams this term"

West Brom v Birmingham
Friday October 15, 19:45
Sky Sports

Ismael glad to give West Brom a break

West Brom chief Valerien Ismael felt the international break came at the right time for Albion, believing his players would benefit from the rest. The Baggies tasted defeat in the Championship for the first time this season when they were beaten at Stoke last time out with the WBA supremo admitting the Potters thoroughly deserved their win.

Having given his group a few days off, Ismael is expecting an immediate response as West Brom prepare to face Birmingham in a derby dust-up. He said: "The aim is to bounce back straight away. We will come back with a big motivation, we will work hard to put in a better performance - and we will put in a better performance - because we will be fresh."

The Albion supremo will continue with his 3-4-3 system with the likes of Callum Robinson, Karlan Grant, Grady Diangana, Matt Phillips and Jordan Hugill all vying for a starting spot in forward areas. Centre-half Dara O'Shea remains the only confirmed absentee, although Alex Mowatt is considered a doubt as he awaits the results of a scan on his foot this week.

Bowyer looking for a response from Birmingham

Birmingham boss Lee Bowyer will be expecting a response from his Blues squad after City signed off for the international break with a heavy 3-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest at St Andrew's. Bowyer let rip at his players post-match, directing the majority of his at his under-performing defenders who have now conceded 12 goals in the team's last five games.

He said, "It's fine margins, I have been saying that over the last few games, we are the team that starts on top and creating chances. But then we are conceding the same goals every game and that's something I have got to fix. We are showing them the defensive mistakes, we are working on the mistakes but we still making those same mistakes again."

Birmingham's recent run - four league defeats from five winless games - has seen Blues side down the table, whilst across all competitions City have now succeeded just once in 11 encounters. The visitors are at least boosted by the return from suspension of Gary Gardner with goalkeeper Neil Etheridge hoping to be involved. Ivan Sanchez is still out after surgery.

Albion expected to take top honours

West Brom are unbeaten in their last seven league games against West Midland rivals Birmingham (W4-D3-L0) since October 2006. The Baggies have tasted defeat just once in their most recent nine head-to-head meetings at The Hawthorns (W4-D4-L1) in league action, the reverse arriving way back in the 2005-06 Premier League season.

West Brom 1.664/6 are three points off the Championship summit in second and also rank second for Expected Points (xP). The Baggies are also inside the top-three for all the major performance data metrics and have pocketed W4-D2-L0 against bottom-half teams this term. Valerien Ismael's outfit have gone off as strong favourites in their last 10 outings.

Birmingham 5.905/1 haven't scored in any of their last four league matches, and are winless now in five (W0-D1-L4). Four of those defeats came by multiple goals, although Lee Bowyer's group have remained reasonably resolute when viewing the Championship's key metrics - no second-tier side has allowed a lower non-penalty Expected Goals (npxG) figure.

Baggies can down resilient Blues

The Championship is averaging 2.55 goals per-game so far this season with 49% of fixtures featuring Over 2.5 Goals 1.8910/11. West Brom were leading the way for goal-filled games during the early part of the campaign, although just two of the Baggies' past seven matches have produced three goals or more. Only four Birmingham fixtures have followed suit.

During Lee Bowyer's 21-game tenure at Blues, only four encounters broke the Over 3.5 Goals barrier and considering the visitors' low-stakes approach, opposing a high-scoring showdown appeals on Friday night. Therefore, supporting the hosts alongside Under 4.5 Goals stands out at 1.758/11 via the Bet Builder on the Sportsbook.

We'll profit should West Brom triumph by a 1-0, 2-0, 3-0, 4-0, 2-1 or 3-1 correct score.

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