Death, taxes and West Brom playing on a Friday night.
With automatic promotion now looking out of West Brom’s reach, the final eight matches of their season will serve as preparation for an impending play-off campaign. They’re one of the few teams left in the league with ‘nothing to play for’ – in the sense that they are essentially guaranteed a play-off place with very little chance of sneaking into the top two.
Birmingham’s recent nine point deduction has seen them slip into a relegation battle, and while a five point cushion on Rotherham keeps them safe from imminent danger, a tough run-in could easily see them fully sucked into the mix. Times are worrying at St. Andrew’s.
Turning our focus onto Friday, I do believe West Brom will further compound Birmingham’s misery. Garry Monk’s men have lost four in-a-row (without scoring) – which is an incredibly untimely loss of form considering recent circumstances. Things were looking rosy when Che Adams and Lukas Jutkiewicz were banging goals in, but circumstances have taken a turn for the worse around the club, and Monk must ensure this downward spiral doesn’t continue.
One home win since December perhaps explains why West Brom aren’t a fair bit shorter to win on Friday, but new boss James Shan has won his last two matches as Baggies boss – including a 3-0 destruction of Swansea on home soil – so it’s a price which is well worth backing.
Next, I’m backing the second-half to see more goals than the first.
West Brom have scored 68% of their goals at the Hawthorns in the second-half this season, while Birmingham have also conceded 59% of their away goals in the second period.
At 23/20, it’s worth trusting the stats for this one.
My final tip is another stats-based one: Birmingham City to have the most corners.
While this may seem counter-intuitive at first, Garry Monk’s men average 5.82 corners-per-match in the league, while West Brom average 5.07.
Not only this, but West Brom concede 5.33 corners-per-match, which is significantly higher than The Blues’ rate of 4.45.
It’s easy to say The Baggies will dominate the statistics as they’re higher in the league and playing at home, but the stats tell a different story in this respect, making 21/10 a tasty little price.