Bolton v West Brom: Gayle to fire for Baggies

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CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) takes a look at Monday night's match-up between promotion-chasing West Brom and struggling Bolton.

Bolton v West Brom | Monday 21st January 2019, 20:00 | Sky Sports

When it was revealed that this game would indeed be televised on Sky Sports, there was plenty of unhappiness all-round from both camps. West Brom were especially displeased about the expensive ticket prices, but Bolton has since tried to correct this by offering Albion season ticket holders a buy-one-get-one-free promotion.

Bolton fans themselves are planning to utilise the televisual aid to demonstrate their unhappiness with owner Ken Anderson. Many supporter groups issued a statement recently citing they plan to ‘protest before, during and after the game’. Bolton legend John McGinlay says he will join the fans in the said protests. OK, now onto the actual football!

This is your typical clash of teams at different ends of the league table. Bolton are in the relegation zone after back-to-back defeats, one of which was a 6-0 trouncing by Hull at the KCOM Stadium. They led at Bristol City last weekend, only to concede twice quickly afterwards to go down 2-1.

West Brom have hit a sticky patch in recent times, falling to win any of their last three, one of which was to third-placed Norwich however. Still, both teams need the points for different reasons, in what is set to be quite a unique atmosphere at the University of Bolton Stadium.

West Brom are a shade of odds-on to secure victory in this game. That can come as no real surprise considering they are the side that expect to be in the Premier League next season, whilst there is a real chance Bolton could be in League One next term, as things stand.

West Brom hold a clear advantage in relation to goals scored. They have scored the most in the league, whilst Bolton have the worst. 55 to Bolton’s 18 showcases a stark contrast that could ultimately decide this match. However, Bolton have only conceded five goals more, so the Baggies remain anything but solid at the back.

Gayle force to fire Baggies

With Harvey Barnes returning to Leicester recently, it left a considerable hole in the West Brom attack. It did hand a chance for Dwight Gayle to win back his spot in the starting XI after recovering from injury. Only four strikers in the entire division has netted more times than he has this season and can always be relied upon at this level.

Gayle put Moore’s side ahead in the Norwich clash last time out, his 14th of the campaign in the league. Clearly West Brom retain a threat from all areas of the pitch, but 52% of their shots on goal occur in the 18-yard box. This is Gayle’s territory and if he gets the service he’ll fancy his chances of firing past a Bolton defence that has kept only five clean sheets all season.

West Brom to win and Dwight Gayle to score is priced at 21/10 (Bet365).

Slow burner in store?

We’ve touched upon the likely strange atmosphere at the game. It remains to be seen how this will adversely affect Bolton themselves. All the anger is directed at the owner, but this atmosphere could either spur the team on, or work against them.

It is likely that Phil Parkinson will prepare his team for this, but they’re the underdogs anyway, so they’ll need every little detail to go in their favour. It could be that West Brom take time to really settle into this match in the fashion which they’d like. They’ve not won in their last three in the league and will still be adjusting to life without key player Barnes.

Bolton will look to dig their heels in and make life uncomfortable for their more talented opponents. Let’s bear in mind that Bolton have beaten Derby at home this season, and only lost 1-0 to Leeds last month.

Also, West Brom have been drawing at half time in 62% of their matches away from The Hawthorns. The same is said for 46% of Bolton’s home matches, and they’ve only been winning 8% of the time, so they’re likely to be defending for most of the opening 45.

5/4 (Sport Nation) is the price set for the half-time draw.

Second-half to ignite

With West Brom often being frustrated in the first 45 in the first half, they do tend to let rip in the second 45. It applies more emphatically to their home games, but they still have some decent numbers away from home as well. Focusing purely on their away matches, it is 59% of their goals scored and conceded within this period of play.

Bolton score 62% of their home games in the second half too, although it is worth considering that they’ve only scored eight times in front of their own fans. They possess the worst home record in the Championship, yet another statistic to work heavily against them going into Monday.

You fear that if West Brom do score early into the second half then the fans may direct even more anger towards their owner, and the players will see their heads drop even further, with the 6-0 loss to Hull still firmly in the memory. In that Hull match, it was only 1-0 at half time, with Parkinson’s side conceding four in the space of 14 second half minutes.

The second-half to be the Highest Scoring Half is nicely priced at 11/10 (Betfred).

Corners on the cards

A final selection which has taken my eye comes in the corner category; something I delve into from time to time. Something which took my eye is that this encounter between Bolton and West Brom contains two sides that is within the top five in the Championship in terms of average amounts of corners in their games.

Only Brentford has seen more corners in their games on average compared to Bolton. Parkinson’s men witness an average of 11.17, 4.50 of which belongs to corners they earn themselves. It is only down to 10.44 for West Brom.

With this being the case, I’m slightly surprise to see it being an even 5/6 split in terms of corners ending either above or below 9.5, which is the spread on this occasion. It should be slightly favoured on it ending over based on the figures, so get the 5/6 (Bet365) on Over 9.5 Corners whilst you can.

Best Bets

Bolton v West Brom – West Brom to win and Dwight Gayle to score (21/10 Bet365)

Bolton v West Brom – Half Time Draw (5/4 SportNation)

Bolton v West Brom – Second Half to be the Highest Scoring Half (11/10 Betfred)

Bolton v West Brom – Over 9.5 Corners (5/6 Bet365)

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