Simon Mail previews West Brom's match at the Hawthorns and does not expect early goals in their game with Brighton...
"Both of these teams have struggled for goals and it could be fairly cagey in the early stages. Three of West Brom's last four home games have been goalless at half-time while four of Brighton's last five league matches have also been 0-0 at the break."
West Brom v Brighton
Baggies desperate for long-awaited league win
West Brom head into this match in critical need of a victory after a run of 20 Premier League matches without a victory. It is a terrible record which stretches back to August, while Alan Pardew has been unable to end the run since replacing Tony Pulis in December. The Baggies are 19th in the table and only goal difference is keeping them off the bottom. With just two league wins, it is clear the hosts need some victories and quickly to have any chance of staying up.
The team did manage a long-awaited win last weekend, over League Two side Exeter in the FA Cup, which in their predicament has to be something of a confidence booster. Their performances have not been that bad recently but a failure to turn draws into wins has been a major problem. Ten draws from 22 league games tells its own story while a lack of firepower, scoring just 16 goals, is an issue which needs to be resolved in this month's transfer window.
Brighton on track to avoid drop
Brighton have certainly not been overwhelmed by their first season in the Premier League following promotion and the side are in an encouraging position, sitting 12th in the table. Chris Hughton's side have based their success on strength at the back with the team boasting the best defensive record, conceding 27 goals, in the bottom half of the table. The team have struggled in attack, scoring only 17 goals, but five wins have given them a fair chance of avoiding relegation.
The Seagulls claimed wins at West Ham and Swansea in the autumn but their away form has dipped recently with one point from their last five games. Brighton have relied on their record at home, where they have lost just twice to push them into mid-table. The side progressed in the FA Cup after a 2-1 win over Crystal Palace on Monday but have managed just one league win in their last 11 matches.
This looks a big opportunity for West Brom to finally secure another league win but the favourites look far too short at just [2.18] to side with. The Baggies have failed to win in 20 matches in the competition so the prospect of backing them at these odds does not appeal in the slightest. It would not be a surprise if the hosts won but they are no value to do so.
Brighton are trading at [4.4] to win this weekend although this is also not a tempting proposition. Their away form has been poor recently and the Seagulls have never won a league match at West Brom in nine visits. The hosts have only lost one of their last five games at the Hawthorns so Pardew's side have not proved easy to defeat lately.
The draw is as short as [3.1] but probably for good reason and a stalemate looks well worth consideration. After all, West Brom have drawn seven of their 11 home games including four of the last five matches. Brighton have been held eight times although only two of them have been away. The hosts' record this season certainly suggests a draw is the best value although there is a feeling this could be their big chance to land a long overdue win.
Both of these teams have struggled for goals and it could be fairly cagey in the early stages. Three of West Brom's last four home games have been goalless at half-time while four of Brighton's last five league matches have also been 0-0 at the break. It may open up as the match goes on, especially with the hosts' desperate need for a win, but it could pay off to back no goals at half-time with defences likely to be on top.
Martin Atkinson takes charge of this weekend's game and the referee has sent off four players this season. His first red card of the campaign was given to West Brom striker Hal Robson-Kanu at Burnley in August.
No side has failed to score in more Premier League away games this season than Brighton (eight), with the Seagulls failing to net in each of their last five on the road. The visitors can be backed at Evens to fail to score again this weekend.
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Simon Mail's 2017/18 P/L