West Bromwich and Wolves are set for a classic relegation six-pointer in the match that will mark the start of Roy Hodgson’s reign at the Hawthorns. The Baggies could make a giant step towards survival by winning this match, but Wolves are also hoping a good result at the Hawthorns will help them boost their survival chances.
Baggies let three-goal lead slip
West Bromwich were always held in high regard for their attractive attacking play, but it was Roberto Di Matteo who got the Baggies playing the way the fans could only wish for. The impressive attacking displays not only earned them promotion from the Championship, but also saw them stake their claim for the mid table finish in the Premier League, while outplaying sides like Arsenal, Manchester United and Everton in the process. The team then entered the poor run of results which eventually led to Roberto Di Matteo’s departure, but the legacy left by the Italian boss is likely to help the Baggies avoid the drop. Now boss Roy Hodgson will be hoping for a very important win in his first game in charge, and he is aware that if his side manage to cut down defensive mistakes to a minimum they will win this game, after scoring no less than eight goals in their last three home games.
Holding midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu is out with a thigh problem, while Marek Cech remains a doubt. Pablo Ibanez, Gonzalo Jara and Steven Reid remain in the infirmary.
Wolves at rock bottom
After narrowly escaping the drop last term, Wolves were again tipped for difficult relegation struggle and while Mick McCarthy’s team would occasionally show some potential, they were unable to escape the danger zone. Cheap defensive mistakes have cost them dearly in some games, with the poor back line on the main reasons for the disappointing results and Wolves now face a major struggle to avoid the drop. The team are in very poor at the moment, having lost four out of last five games in all competitions, while it is worth noting that Mick McCarthy’s side are simply terrible when they leave their Molineux. Wolves have lost 12 out of 15 away games this season, conceding at least two goals in 12 of those, so they are unlikely to fare much better against very good West Bromwich side.
Defender Ronald Zubar is doubtful with a knee injury, while Stephen Hunt and Dave Edwards could start despite not being fully fit. Kevin Foley will start at right-back, but Michael Kightly, Adlene Ghedioura and Michael Mancienne remain sidelined.
With players like Odemwingie, Brunt, Thomas and Fortune in the side, it is little wonder the Baggies keep scoring goals for fun, especially at their Hawthorns. Seeing that they will now be pitted against one of the worst travelers in the Premiership and the team that conceded at least two goals in most of their away games, my advice is to back West Brom to score at least two goals.
Our prediction: West Brom to score over 1.5 goals
Odds: 1.85 (17/20)