Back Baggies; In Rod we trust
We are backing West Brom to claim a vital victory over West Ham in our betting preview of Saturday's Premier League games.
- Related Content
Everton certainly have the greater need for three points in the lunchtime TV game. Their chase for a top-four spot continues and in all likelihood they will need three wins from here to stand any chance. Southampton, on the other hand, look to have little to play for - something which has been reflected in their last two results which have brought a 1-0 home defeat to Cardiff and a goalless draw at Aston Villa - both sides with much more motivation to do well right now. The Saints have also been without their top striker Jay Rodriguez for those games due to his season-ending injury. It could be therefore that Everton become a decent opportunity having drifted to 6/4. That move has occurred as they will be without first-choice centre-backs Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka for the contest due to injury. Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones will fill in. They've started together as a partnership just once in a league game - the 1-1 draw at Stoke on New Year's Day - but did well enough that occasion and last week in the second half against Manchester United. However, with Kevin Mirallas also out injured (he misses the rest of the season) I'm not convinced by Everton here. They were fortunate to win at Sunderland in their last away game and while I can see them winning this I feel there are better bets to be had elsewhere.
Verdict: Southampton 1 Everton 2 (AS)
Southampton have failed to score in the two games Jay Rodriguez has missed since his knee injury.
Of players with a 100% record, Leighton Baines has taken more Premier League penalties than any other player in the competition's history (13).
Everton have won eight of their last nine Barclays Premier League games (losing once - 2-3 v Crystal Palace) and have kept three clean sheets in their last four.
Everton have not won four league away games in a row since December 1985.
Hugo Rodallega is the man I'm turning too in search of profits in this game as he's surely too big at 11/4 to find the net. The Colombian has looked a real threat in recent weeks and has been one of the main reasons behind the Cottagers' transformation from relegation certainties to survival hopefuls. He scored in the wins over both Aston Villa and Norwich and also had two good chances to open the scoring against Spurs last week. Adding weight to the argument is that Rodallega has a track record of scoring important goals at this time of the season. He was part of the Wigan team which would regularly be found fighting relegation in April. He came up with two key goals in the run-in in 2011, including their 'survival goal' at Stoke, while in 2009 he bagged three late on to help the Latics stay up. The 28-year-old looks in the sort of form to do exactly the same with Fulham right now and I feel 888sport's 11/4 is just way too big, particularly given the opposition's current state. OK, the Tigers have performed much better than expected this season, largely thanks to a solid defence. But after a decent first 20 minutes against Arsenal last week, they looked every inch a side with the FA Cup final on their mind with that backline conceding three times. They also let in three in their semi-final with League One Sheffield United, while they conceded twice at West Ham in a recent league outing. Fulham have been played pretty well of late. As well as their recent wins, they could have really troubled Spurs had they taken their chances, while they were the better side for half the game against Everton a few weeks ago. I can see them being able to score two or more here and so their main striker Rodallega warrants support at a good price.
Verdict: Fulham 3 Hull 1 (AS)
Hull have won four of their five previous Barclays Premier League meetings with Fulham; their best win rate against any side in the competition (80%).
Fulham have kept a clean sheet in only two of their last nine Premier League home games but both of those matches have ended as 1-0 wins.
Fulham have taken nine points from their last six Premier League games after collecting two from their previous nine.
Steve Sidwell's total of seven goals this season is the most he has ever scored in a Premier League campaign (beating a previous best of four goals, twice).
I definitely like the look of Stoke here at 11/5. Their home record is often mentioned in these pages but rightly so; they've now won four on the bounce at the Britannia Stadium. That's part of a run of eight games which have brought just one defeat and has put them in with a real chance of finishing in the top half of the table for the first time since their return to the top flight. Essentially, Mark Hughes' side are in good form. Spurs remain patchy under Tim Sherwood, their hopes of challenging for a top-four spot undermined by a string of poor results away from home, which does not bode well for their trip to Staffordshire. Their most recent away games have seen them draw 3-3 at West Brom (having been 3-0 down), lose 4-0 at both Liverpool and Chelsea, and 1-0 at Norwich. They weren't hugely impressive in beating Fulham last week while they also needed to come from behind to win recent home games against Southampton and Sunderland. Basically they are worth opposing and the home side's price makes that easy to do. For those who think I'm wrong, Christian Eriksen has been assisting for fun of late for Spurs but at 2/1 in that anytime market he's as short as I've seen.
Verdict: Stoke 2 Tottenham 1 (AS)
All five Barclays Premier League meetings between these sides in Stoke have ended 2-1, with the Potters winning two and losing three.
Tottenham have the fourth highest points total (30) away from home this season despite having a goal difference of -2 on the road.
Spurs have conceded a total of 11 goals in their last three Premier League away games and have failed to score in three of their last four.
Stoke have won their last four Premier League home games, three of them ending 1-0 to the Potters. They have never won five home games in a row in the Premier League.
Tottenham have come from behind to win a league-high 17 points from losing positions this season while Stoke have the second best total (15).
Aston Villa aren't coping too well without the injured Christian Benteke having only managed one goal in the last three games and at this rate they could be sucked into the mire with no time to recover. At the moment Paul Lambert's side hold a five-point buffer over third-bottom Cardiff but no Villa fan will sleep easy until at least another win is secured. Last weekend's goalless draw with Southampton halted a run of four straight defeats although they head to the Liberty Stadium without an away win since a 1-0 victory over Sunderland on New Year's Day. Swansea are looking far more likely to secure their Premier League status despite being just a point further ahead thanks to a morale-boosting 2-1 away win at Newcastle last time out, while a 3-0 victory over Norwich and a 2-2 draw at Arsenal last month shows their overall recent form is relatively encouraging. This clash represents a prime opportunity to get the job done in front of their own fans so I'd recommend you put this one in your accumulators.
Verdict: Swansea 2 Aston Villa 0 (CH)
Wilfried Bony has now netted 13 Barclays Premier League goals this season, eight more than any other Swansea player.
Aston Villa have won just one of the eight Premier League games that Christian Benteke has missed this season, netting only six goals in the process.
Seven of Aston Villa's last 10 Premier League games have been 0-0 at half-time.
Supporters of most clubs in the bottom half of the table would be more than happy with the season if they survive. But this certainly can't be said about the West Ham faithful who have turned against Sam Allardyce in droves due to the widely-criticised style of football he's brought to Upton Park in a bid to ensure they continue to stay in the top flight. Large sections of the home fans were unhappy with all three of Big Sam's substitutions during their 1-0 defeat to Crystal Palace last time out before a chorus of boos greeted the full-time whistle. The Hammers looked toothless against the Eagles and even Allardyce admits their star man Andy Carroll is still suffering from a lack of sharpness and fitness. The England World Cup hopeful initially helped inspire an upturn in fortunes after returning from five months out on the sidelines but he's only managed two goals in 13 games and his form has markedly faded. The fact they sit seven points clear of the relegation zone is scant consolation to the fans who think they deserve a more entertaining brand of football, although they could be in store for some excitement at The Hawthorns, which has seen 12 goals in the last two games. Both 3-3 draws have ended with the visitors grabbing last-gasp equalisers and the second of those was particularly galling for the Baggies, who threw a 3-0 lead away against Tottenham. When you consider Pepe Mel's side really should have won both of those games either side of a 1-0 victory at Norwich, they are showing far more signs of life than a dreary West Ham outfit and there can be little doubt they'll want the three points most on Saturday. The Baggies are a best of 20/21 so if you want slightly bigger odds maybe you should consider backing them to be winning at half-time/full-time, which is 85/40. They've managed to score in the first half of all their last four games, were leading in three of those at the break and were unlucky to only end up winning one.
Verdict: West Brom 3 West Ham 1 (CH)
West Ham have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last nine league games; the longest current run in the division.
West Ham have lost six of their last eight Premier League games (W2).
Seven of the Baggies' last eight goals in the Premier League have come before half-time.
The way United slumped at Goodison last week, I might have been a tad interested in siding with Norwich in this one; they've been playing better than results suggest, giving both Fulham and Liverpool a decent game in the past fortnight. Then came David Moyes' sacking on Tuesday - albeit it seemed to be announced on Monday - and you have to think there will be something of a bounce effect associated with that move. It has been suggested much of the problems at United this season stemmed from a lack of dressing room respect but that shouldn't be an issue for caretaker-boss and club legend Ryan Giggs. Quite how he sees things tactically would be a bit of a worry were it not one of the league's worst sides turning up. Then again, if it were City or Liverpool in town this week would Moyes have been axed? Maybe not. The reshuffle makes betting on this one rather tough. Norwich are 8/1 but that still looks a skinny price. Perhaps I'm still thinking they should be 16/1 at Old Trafford - they would have been this time last season - but even this United side is considerably better than the Canaries. If pushed, I'd probably side with United to win by a narrow margin - to win by one is 29/10 - given their patchy form, but I'm far from convinced and with a buoyant crowd behind them they have the ability to go to town on Norwich if things click. United won this fixture 4-0 when it was played in the Capital One Cup earlier in the season, while Norwich have shipped goals aplenty in trips to Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool, and perhaps of more significance given United's decline, Southampton and Villa. That's more than enough to make me look elsewhere for better bets.
Verdict: Manchester United 2 Norwich 1 (AS)
Norwich have taken fewer points away from home than any other Barclays Premier League side this season (eight).
Shinji Kagawa scored three of his six Premier League goals to date in this fixture last season, which Man Utd won 4-0.
The Canaries have lost their last seven away league games and are winless in nine (D2 L7) - they have never lost eight in a row away from home.
The Canaries have only won four of their last 38 Premier League away matches (L24 D10).