Goals at a premium on Friday night
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West Brom bag overdue win
West Brom secured their first Championship success in eight outings last weekend when Karlan Grant scored twice for the Baggies in a 2-0 triumph at Hull. Having lost six of their previous seven games, new boss Steve Bruce opted to shuffle his pack, making sweeping changes to his starting XI and also switching to a 3-5-2 formation.
And it worked a treat with skipper Jake Livermore influential on his return and Albion putting in their best performance for months. Top scorer Grant flicked home Alex Mowatt’s fine cross to give WBA a deserved lead and the former Tigers striker doubled the advantage from the penalty spot early in the second half to secure an overdue three points.
Speaking post-match, Bruce said: “I’m pleased for everyone – it’s been a long wait and it’s been a difficult month. The first half hour was the best we’ve played since I’ve been at the club and when the penalty went it we were always in control of the match. We’ve still got a lot to improve on but we’re up and running. Let’s see if we can make a late charge.”
Huddersfield exit the FA Cup
A much-changed Huddersfield outfit exited the FA Cup on Monday night as the Terriers were beaten 2-1 at Nottingham Forest despite taking a 13th minute lead through Tom Lees and an unusual set-piece routine. However, Town’s advantage lasted no longer than 15 minutes and Carlos Corberan‘s charges were behind before the interval at the City Ground.
Huddersfield have not made the quarter-finals of the FA Cup since 1972, and were on an 18-game unbeaten run across all competitions. But Corberan accepted the side fell short against Forest, saying: “We came here with the target to stay in the cup and didn’t do that. They were better than us, and we need to correct that and analyse what we can do better.”
Midfielder Lewis O’Brien missed Monday’s match after picking up a knock against Peterborough in Huddersfield’s most recent league fixture and is now rated doubtful for Friday night. Levi Colwill and Josh Koroma were also absent through illness and are also considered doubts ahead of the trip to The Hawthorns.
West Brom haven’t enjoyed recent match-ups with Huddersfield as the Baggies have pocketed only two victories in nine league dates going back to 1998 (W2-D1-L6). The Baggies have also found the going tough when welcoming the Terriers to The Hawthorns, returning just two wins in nine in home head-to-head meetings since 1991 (W2-D3-L4).
West Brom 1.9010/11 started the season superbly but the Baggies season has unravelled from October. Albion have returned W7-D6-L12 since the start of October – only four second-tier clubs have collected fewer points in that sample – with the hosts failing to even score in 12 of their 18 league fixtures since November’s international break.
Huddersfield 4.507/2 have performed above expectations to be sat inside the top-six. The Terriers are enjoying their best unbeaten league streak for well over a decade – a 16-game sequence (W9-D7-L0) that includes four straight triumphs and seven clean sheets in Town’s most recent 12 outings. The guest have also lost just twice at top-half teams (W3-D3-L2).
West Brom’s games have averaged only 1.97 goals per-game – the joint-lowest figure in the Championship with at least one team failing to score in 24/35 (69%) of their overall fixtures. Just three of Albion’s last 20 encounters have produced Over 2.5 Goals 2.206/5, whilst the Baggies have struck multiple goals in only four of their last 25 league dates.
Huddersfield have tended to tighten up on their travels against the league’s leading lights. The Terriers haven’t been easy to oust since the start of December and will look to keep things tight. Five of Town’s eight trips to the top-half have produced a maximum of one goal as Both Teams To Score 2.001/1 has obliged just twice in that same sample.
Considering the magnitude of the match, and the overwhelming figures in our favour, it makes sense to oppose a high-scoring shootout on Friday night with the 1.804/5 available on Both Teams To Score ‘No’ particularly appealing.