West Brom vs Birmingham | Friday 15th October 2021, 19:45 | Sky Sports
It’s a West Midlands derby on Friday night featuring two sides who definitely appeared to be in opposing form but perhaps it's not a clear cut as that.
When betting I always try to look past the actual results and evaluate how a team is performing seeing if results are unsustainable or results will pick up given the underlying performance and Birmingham fall into this category. Despite sitting in the bottom third of the Championship, I have them 6th on xPTS and 2nd on xG ratio.
Recent results need to be reviewed and we can see that Lee Bowyer's sides have been a little unfortunate. They won the xG comfortable against Nottingham Forest – 1.80 vs 0.93 yet managed to lose the game 3-0. Bowyer said they failed to take chances and were soft when it came to defending, but maybe that’s being a little harsh.
Blues were also beaten 4-1 by Fulham, but again the xG had the match much closer with 1.61 vs 1.82 in favor of the London-based side. On the road they have a record of W2-D1-L2 yet have won the xG in every match.
My rankings have the Blues as the 2nd best away side so should the Baggies be going off at such low odds with them currently 7/11 for the win? I am not so sure. Lets get it right, I think WBA are the best side in the Championship and manager Ismael Valerien has at times made the Baggies look at cut above most teams in the league.
Bowyer is starting to come under a bit of pressure given the recent form of W0-D1-L4 whilst failing to score in four of these five games and he knows a poor display against rivals WBA won’t do his popularity with the fans any favours. I am expecting the Blues to battle hard and defend strongly, taking inspiration from Stoke who beat West Brom last time out with a great team performance, sitting deep, moving the ball quickly and attacking with pace which the Baggies failed to deal with and 1-0 flattered West Brom.
The Blues definitely have the players to cause the hosts some issues. I really like Tahith Chong and Scott Hogan, Lukas Jutkiewicz and Troy Deeney have experience at this level to be effective. Chuks Aneke, who moved from Charlton is due more goals with a return of one goal from a xG of 3.61.
The Baggies should win the league in my view. They have a manager that will impose his style on the team and it appears to have already hit home what is expected from the players with just one defeat all season and a win here will put them back on the top of the table. They look the most complete team in attack and defensive.
I have Albion in the top three for every major metric and they will take some stopping, but they have definitely had a dip in form despite the results with an average of 0.73 xG in their last three away games and draws at home against Millwall and Derby haven’t helped their quest for automatic promotion.
Perhaps sides have worked out how to stop the set pieces, throw ins and general bombardment of the box of high balls. No sides has had as many shots from set pieces than WBA, but interestingly no side has conceded fewer shots from set pieces than the Blues.
Key player Alex Mowatt looks likely to be missing from the Baggies line up on Friday night, which is a massive loss for them as he makes the side tick and he weighs in with goals and assists and drives the team forward. I am not sure they have a like for like player so it will be interesting to see who they deploy in that role.
It should be an open and attacking game especially as we know the hosts will look to play on the front foot and I think we should see a few goals. I think the visitors can get on the scoresheet.
I have mentioned that their underlying performances have been much better than results and the Baggies have conceded in seven of their 11 games this season and it’s a local derby and I can’t see the Blues fans allowing Bowyer to shut up shop and play for a point. Both Teams To Score can be backed at 19/20 with 10Bet.
It wouldn’t be a local derby without a few cards. The fans will be up for the game, its live on the TV and the players will react to the crowd. The Blues have been card-happy this season with an average of two cards per game, collecting at least one card in every game this season, whilst WBA have collected a card in 10 of their 11 games.
If we use Skybet and build on the card and goals angle with can back 25+ Booking Points, Over 1.5 Goals and Over 8.5 Corner at 13/8.
The Baggies have won an average of 5.8 corners at home but have conceded 4.4, with all 5 visitors collecting at least four corners each. The Blues have seen an average of 7.8 corners per away match, not helped by QPR with one corner and Barnsley collecting just two, I don’t see WBA winning such few corners, so I think this is a good angle in.
Jake Livermore should start in the middle of midfield for the Baggies and so far this season he is committing at least two fouls in every game and has collected four yellow cards in his 11 starts. It’s a derby game and I think he will look to control the game and was can back him at 13/5 with Sporting Index to be booked.
Livermore will be up against Chong in the middle of the park, who is the Blues most fouled player.