WLB Season Preview 2020/21 | Premier League: Relegation
When looking at the teams in this season’s Premier League, you could make a case for about half of the sides being involved in relegation trouble come May. I’ve picked out a value play for a club that could well be waving goodbye to the top-flight at the end of the campaign, and not for the first time either.
West Brom to Finish Bottom (7/2 Boylesports)
West Brom fans will be forever thankful to Stoke for their win over Brentford with two matches to go in the Championship season which helped the Baggies maintain a lead over the Bees in the automatic promotion spots.
It led to the Albion just needing to better their rivals’ remaining results to win promotion and that they did in far from comfortable fashion. Had the season gone on two of three games longer, West Brom will have certainly ended up in the play-offs and have suffered one the biggest collapses in recent Championship history.
Slaven Bilic looked a very relieved man once promotion was confirmed, in the end rewards for such a fast start. Without a fast start in the Premier League too and in turn a shake off of the 2020 form, the Baggies look set to return to the Championship very quickly.
Without remedying the quality gaps which exist in two areas of the team – striker and centre-half – West Brom are not going to pick up many points quite simply. This side without promotion will have needed freshening up so promotion had just increased that urgency.
Key players from last season have been tied down or are in the progress of being signed permanently – namely Filip Krovinovic, Mattheus Pereira and Grady Diangana – but each of those names possess no Premier League experience which is vital for any side wishing to win survival.
In the build-up, you’d be confident that West Brom could hold their own. Jake Livermore sits in front of the back four very well, breaking up play and distributing effectively to the forward quartet who each have desirable qualities. Krovinovic is cultured on the ball and has a good eye for goal; Pereira was the assist king in the Championship last season and Diangana caused many a headache for full-backs across the division.
It’s when it gets to chances in the penalty area that the Baggies look so far short. Charlie Austin scored at this level before with QPR and briefly with Southampton but a fair few years have past since then with the former non-league man’s fitness scarcely improving. Austin’s 10 Championship goals was quite some way short off top goalscorers Mitrovic and Watkins who scored 26 each and reflects how often he was rotated.
Another crucial position which was rotated was left centre-back. Kyle Bartley and Ahmed Hegazi were not trusted enough to start week-in-week-out by Bilic so an upgrade is vital. Full-back also looks a weak area so with three of the back four needing improvement with just a week to go until the new season, how can you have any faith in this team staying up?
Instead of backing the rather short 11/10 for the Baggies to be relegated, I will instead put some money behind the bigger price of 7/2 for them to Finish Bottom with Boylesports.
Unless a team has an absolute shocker, the only other side I can see ‘competing’ for bottom is Fulham who are a slightly shorter price than the Albion in this market. I’m siding with the Baggies to finish bottom of the pile with their problems in both boxes.
2020/21 Premier League – West Brom to Finish Bottom (7/2 Boylesports)