West Brom v Brentford: Baggies can out-gun wilting Bees

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CHAMPIONSHIP specialist James O'Rourke (@JamesOR1) takes a look at Monday night's match-up between West Brom and Brentford at The Hawthorns.

West Brom v Brentford | Monday 3rd December 2018, 20:00 | Sky Sports

It is a little bit of a shame we’re having to wait until Monday night for this game, but I can very much see it being worth the build-up. Free-scoring West Brom welcome an out-of-sorts Brentford to The Hawthorns looking to maintain their strong run of form. As for the Bees, they’ve found life tough in recent times and are edging closer and closer to the relegation zone.

It was only last month where serious questions were being asked of Darren Moore and this Baggies side. A 1-0 loss to struggling Hull on 3rd November made it four without victory, three of which resulted in defeat.

However, they’ve backed that up with three consecutive victories, including in emphatic fashion versus Leeds in their last home match, and then most recently away in Swansea in midweek. Those were sandwiched between a battling win at bottom side Ipswich, but Moore has certainly installed a positive mentality into this group of players.

Let us not forget, Moore was caretaker manager towards the end of last season and if he had taken charge earlier, there is every chance they would still be a Premier League club. You wouldn’t bet against that being the case this time next season.

Brentford, on the other hand, are at the other end of the spectrum. It was not long ago that then boss Dean Smith was setting his sights on making the play-offs and having a go at the Premier League themselves.

However, he has since moved on, and Thomas Frank is yet to really stamp his authority at Griffin Park. Their record reads just one win in the last 13 in all competitions. Without heaping all of the blame onto Frank, Smith was still at the club for roughly half of those.

Brentford are certainly missing someone with the quality that Ollie Watkins possesses. It remains to be seen how long he will be out of action for. It is only him and striker Neal Maupay who are scoring goals for them this season, so they need him back on the pitch as soon as possible.

Players were arguing between themselves during the midweek home loss to Sheffield United, and the fans voiced their unhappiness both at half-time and full-time. Perhaps a trip to West Brom is the last thing they want.

Surprising value is available

Whilst we can all subscribe to the notion that in the Championship ‘everyone can be everyone’, the form guide does perhaps give a greater insight than the actual league table. The first thing I focus on when assessing a game is indeed the more recent form. Whether they won on the opening day of the season or not is a little irrelevant when focusing on a match in December.

What I was pleasantly surprised to see was the price on the 1×2 market for West Brom. Remember that they are a team that are scoring goals for fun right now. In fact, in the top four English leagues, there are only two teams to have scored 40+ goals right now; West Brom and Manchester City.

Moore might have been a tough centre back in his day, but he has centrally embraced an offensive philosophy in the dugout. That can’t come as much surprise considering the quality of player he has available to him. It could be argued they have the best option of forward-thinking players at this level.

So much so, their current top scorer Dwight Gayle has been unable to win back his spot in the starting XI. Former Welsh international Hal Robson-Kanu is giving Moore a very positive selection headache to the point where the forward cannot really be dropped.

Scoring goals might not be Brentford’s issue this season, as they themselves have netted 30, which is certainly one of the best in the league. Even defensively, they’ve conceded only once more than West Brom. Both teams have a similar philosophy in wanting to outscore the opposition, and West Brom ultimately have more of those bigger game players to make them much more effective at this.

Brentford are clearly in bad form, but they have been competitive in all those games. Their last six defeats, which has arrived over their last seven in the league, have all been by a one-goal margin. That is where experience comes into play, and perhaps they lack that bit of something to get the job done. For example, in the recent losses to the Blades and also QPR, they were leading early on.

It is only one win in West Brom’s last three at home, but you get the feeling that they are now very much back on track. Getting quotes of 51/50 (Marathon) on a West Brom victory is extremely appealing.

They should be popular on the weekend accumulators (if you’re prepared to be patient in waiting until Monday!). I was expecting a much shorter price, and come kick-off that might be the case.

Both teams love to attack

We’ve already touched upon how both of these sides like to play on the front foot. We’ve also touched upon the fact that despite the big difference in terms of league position and points, Brentford has only conceded one goal more than West Brom has done.

The change of management at Griffin Park hasn’t really led to a sudden change in style of play. Frank believes that the football played under Smith, which earned them plaudits over recent seasons, is good enough to get them out of trouble.

The Baggies will play this looking to win, and despite their troubles, so will Brentford. They aren’t the sort of side to shut up shop and play for a draw. In the short-term, that may benefit them to a degree, but ultimately they are an attack-minded team.

The numbers back this up as well. Only four times this season has Brentford failed to score. That is good going for a team that are ultimately struggling to win games of football. Defensively they are anything but solid at this moment in time. Frank said the goals they conceded against Sheffield United in particular were disappointing, apart from the wonder strike by Ollie Norwood.

There is only a 0.05 difference between these sides in relation to average goals conceded per-game. Brentford have been a little leakier away from home, conceding an average of 1.89. In fact, they have one of the worst defensive away records in the Championship. Going into this weekend, there is only Millwall, Wigan, Ipswich and Blackburn who have let in more on the road.

We thought Brentford’s scoring record was good, but West Brom trump that. Only three times in the Championship have they failed to score. They’ve scored in every home league match as well, including seven versus QPR back in August, and netting four versus the likes of Leeds and Reading. When they do score, more goals tend to follow.

However, only Millwall have left The Hawthorns this season failing to score a goal. They are not a side built on keeping clean sheets, which is a surprise considering they have the likes of Craig Dawson and Jake Livermore in their side. Still, it is a style which is earning them victories. Whilst Moore would want more clean sheets in the long run, scoring more than the opposition is ultimately what it is all about.

Both Teams To Score at 8/13 (William Hill) is not a bad price at all considering the usual prices you can get on this market. The stats suggests this really should be paying out.

The second half could be tasty

Whilst we’re all having to be patient in waiting until Monday for this one, I’m asking you to possibly be even more patient in waiting for this game to really take off.

By no means are we expecting the first half to be a boring contest, but the numbers do suggest that these sides tend to offer more when the second 45 gets underway. On the flip side, matches involving these two full stop just seem to be much more action-packed, and considerably so.

I mentioned this when covering West Brom’s matches against Ipswich, but it is still relevant now. I backed the Draw/West Brom because of this very statistic. Whilst it did not pay out on that occasion, and it may not here, we do still have faith in these particular numbers.

That is concerned the goals scored and conceded, especially for West Brom, and the comparison between first half and second half. West Brom have unbelievably scored 71% of their Championship goals in the second half. That is big! 59% of their goals conceded has fallen in this period as well.

It is tighter when focusing on Brentford, but it is still notably big. Theirs read 57% goals scored in the second half and 54% goals conceded in the second half. We’re still talking more often than now they’ll score and concede in this period, more so than the first 45.

In fact, the West Brom numbers go up slightly when focusing just on their home games. They’ve scored 73% home goals in the second half. It is worth remembering though that they have had some big victories in front of their own supporters, such as the QPR demolition job.

That being said, we can still picture a scenario where this game is quite open in the second half. Even if a goal or goals are netted in the first half, both teams will react in the second either looking to score in reply or score even more. Neither of those sides will want to sit back too often, simply because they know the damage they can cause and the fact neither defence is too solid.

Therefore, we have to jump on the 11/10 (Betfair) on offer for the second-half to be the Best Highest Scoring Half.

Collectively, these two teams have only scored 16 goals within the first 15 minutes. That is not that many and is just an example of them opening up later on. Especially as both teams combined have scored 22 times in the last 15 minutes of matches this season.

Set-pieces will be key

As us EFL supporters tend to do, when watching the highlights show featuring all the games, you pick up on certain things. One thing I have noticed quite a bit across the season is that West Brom tend to score quite a few goals on set-pieces

Perhaps it is just they score that many goals that naturally they are going to come from different types of situations, but it is an area which we can gain an interest in approaching this match.

Using WhoScored, West Brom and in fact Brentford, are two of the more prolific teams in the league when it comes to scoring goals on set-piece situations. Both teams are quite high up the other table in relation to goals conceded on set-pieces too. There is a good chance a dead ball will lead to another on Monday night.

With that being the case, there has to be a goalscoring angle we can go down to give ourselves a nice big price to have a playing interest. We’re backing West Brom to win this game, and with Brentford having conceded eight goals over the last three, compared to the three for West Brom in that period, we’ll back the Baggies to score from a corner or free-kick.

Craig Dawson scored in the midweek win at Swansea and also in the home draw with Blackburn back in October. He is seemingly someone who more often than not finds his head on the ball in situations like this. We’ll have a cheeky little play on him being an Anytime Goalscorer at 10/1 (188BET).

Best Bets

West Brom v Brentford – West Brom to win (51/50 Marathon)

West Brom v Brentford – Both Teams To Score (8/13 William Hill)

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

West Brom v Brentford – Craig Dawson to score at anytime (10/1 188BET)

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