Bournemouth V West Brom
Saturday 17 March, 15:00
Bournemouth looking to bounce-back
After their best period of the season, were they went seven Premier League games unbeaten (W4 D3), Bournemouth have hit the buffers again and they're without a win in four.
After back-to-back wins against Chelsea and Stoke, they were embarrassed at the John Smith's Stadium when Huddersfield hammered them 4-1 before they needed a madcap finish at home to Newcastle to come from 2-0 down to draw 2-2. A last gasp Riyad Mahraz equaliser away at Leicester prevented the Cherries from taking all three points a fortnight ago but they were soundly beaten by an upbeat Spurs (4-1) last Sunday at Dean Court.
Bournemouth haven't been terrific at home this season but Liverpool and Spurs are the only teams to beat them since November and this looks a like a great opportunity for them to bounce-back to winning ways.
Hard to find positives for doomed Baggies
West Brom are firmly rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, seven points below 19th placed Stoke, and they look completely and utterly doomed. They're the 12th team in Premier League history to have 20 points or less after 30 games and none of the previous 11 survived the drop. They've lost their last six matches and they've lost their last three away from home without even scoring a goal.
As bad as the picture appears for the Baggies, it looks even worse when you consider they won their first two games of the season and that they've won just one of their last 28 Premier League fixtures (2-0 at home to Brighton). Their most ardent supporters will point to the fact that they beat Bournemouth on the opening day of the season but even that isn't much of a plus given they've only achieved a league double over one club in any of the last five Premier League campaigns - beating Stoke twice in 2015-16.
Pardew's drinking in the last chance saloon
Apart from an FA Cup run with Crystal Palace, when he took the Eagles all the way to the final in 2016, Alan Pardew's managerial career, has been on a steady downward spiral for years now. Many would have been surprised to see him given the West Brom job and even he sounds surprised he's still got it. This what he had to say after last week's 4-1 defeat at home to Leicester.
"Before you even ask me the question, will I speak to those upstairs? Yes, I will, of course I will because it's getting difficult. For me, it's about planning for next week and getting ready for a difficult game at Bournemouth and that's what I will do. But I will still talk to them and get a feeling of what they think because they might think a change is a better thing for the club, I don't know."
Pardews's still there but he's drinking in the last chance saloon and the shutters are being rustled. Since he took charge of the Baggies at the end of November they've won just one Premier League match and they've lost six of eight Premier League away games. A defeat at Dean Court could see his lamentable reign come to an end and that's the most likely scenario.
Pardew needs his troops to rally but they're a beaten and bedraggled bunch and the 10/11 offered by the Sportsbook about the Cherries coming out on top looks fair.
Recent results suggest goals on the agenda
These two teams have met five times previously in the Premier League. Both teams have won 1-0 and 2-1 and they've also drawn 1-1 so history suggests a tight affair but recent results suggests more than the two goals the two sides have averaged so far. There have been at least three goals in 11 of Bournemouth's last 13 games and in five of West Brom's last six so Over 2 ½ Goals looks far more attractive than under.
West Brom are hard to fancy but the thing that tempers my enthusiasm about backing Bournemouth at odds-on is the Cherries leaky defence. They've conceded at least once in 16 of their last 17 games and in each of their last nine at home. But given they've also scored in their last 11 Premier League games, I couldn't put anyone off backing both teams to score at just a shade of odds-on. The Baggies are without a goal on the road in each of their last three games and they're clearly low on confidence but two of those three games were at Manchester City and Chelsea so that stat isn't as awful as it first appears.
The stats strongly suggest that playing both teams to score makes sense and recent results suggest goals are on the agenda but I fancy Bournemouth to come out on top so I'm playing both teams to score and Bournemouth to win at a juicy 11/4 and Bournemouth and over 2 ½ goals at 15/8.
Graham Scott takes charge on Saturday and he's one of the least card happy referees on the rota. This will be his 16th Premier League game in charge this season and so far, he's issued just one red card and 28 yellows.
Staked: 22.5 pts
Returned: 27.81 pts
P/L: +5.31 pts