West Brom v Crystal Palace
Saturday March 4, 15:00
Tony Pulis' West Brom have flown steadily below the radar this season, and now find themselves sitting pretty in eighth having only lost one of their last eight league games. The Baggies are rarely spectacular, but everyone knows their role and performs it well.
Only two teams have managed to give West Brom a battering this term - Spurs back in January at White Hart Lane and Man City at the Hawthorns a few months before that. Other than that, their discipline, commitment to purpose and game-plan means they're rarely outclassed even if they are occasionally beaten.
They come into this game a better side and in better form than Crystal Palace. But the potential absence of Craig Dawson, one of their key defenders, with a head injury, is a concern, as are the doubts around Matt Phillips' hamstring problem.
It's fair to say it's not worked out exactly how many would have predicted with Big Sam Allardyce's tenure at Selhurst Park so far. The ex-England manager has picked up just six points so far and the Eagles are still in the relegation zone well over two months into the job.
Palace seem to be capable of stringing passages of play together yet not fully able to consistently perform. They are also prone to huge lapses of concentration, most notably for the full 90 minutes against a poor Sunderland side that beat them 0-4 on their own patch a month ago.
One thing's for certain, if Allardyce's side are to get anything at all from this tricky away trip then they need to be fully focused. West Brom have the ability and the form to punish any mistake.
West Brom are favourites for this game, which isn't a surprise at all. What is perhaps more surprising though, is that they're a decent odds-against price. 2.226/5 is available at time of writing and for me that's a no-brainer of a bet.
The Baggies are simply much better than Palace and there's no way, given the teams' comparative seasons, that the home team should be so big. Essentially, because WBA aren't a 'fashionable' team, we're getting a load of extra value in their price. So let's take it.
If you need another reason to back West Brom, Opta tell us they've never lost a home Premier League game against Palace.
Palace are available at 3.953/1, and The Draw is 3.39/4.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
It's natural to instinctively plump for Unders here when you hear the names of the managers involved. But perhaps somewhat surprisingly Opta tell us that the average amount of goals scored in games between these teams is three, well over the 2.5 threshold.
If you put stock in such things then 2.526/4 about three goals or more is tremendous value. It might, of course, be a lot tighter than that on the day though, and the market agrees - it's priced Unders at just 1.618/13.
Everyone appears to be talking about Gareth McAuley at the moment and his uncanny knack of scoring goals for a defender. He's got six in the Premier League this season, which is the most scored by a defender in all of Europe's top flight leagues.
He's currently 6.25/1 to do so again on Saturday, and given that no team in the Premier League has scored more goals from corners than Pulis' men this season, he might be worth backing here.
Back West Brom to win at 2.226/5
Back Gareth McAuley to score at 6.25/1
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