West Brom and Aston Villa resume hostilities after feisty first-leg clash.
The second-leg of West Brom v Aston Villa is tantalisingly poised.
Dean Smith’s side take a slender 2-1 lead to The Hawthorns, and their brilliant second-half turnaround on Saturday will surely give Villa fans great confidence prior to their trip to the Black Country.
However, The Baggies have turned The Hawthorns into a fortress again – winning their last five matches there, netting an impressive 15 times in the process. The bad news for West Brom is that Dwight Gayle—who provided six of these 15 goals—is suspended for this monumentally important match, after idiotically fouling Villa ‘keeper Jed Steer while already on a yellow card.
With Hal Robson-Kanu already serving a suspension for a similarly stupid offence, Jimmy Shan is left with only Jay Rodriguez as a recognised striker, which is why I’m leaning towards Villa qualifying for Wembley (their first-leg advantage being the main reason, of course).
However, despite the absence of Gayle and Robson-Kanu (the latter hardly a big miss, anyway), I do think West Brom will score; Villa have kept two clean sheets in their last eight away matches, and are another side who generally rely on proficiency in front of goal to win them games of football.
Villa are my pick to progress—after the 90 minutes or otherwise—but this won’t be the nervy, timid affair we’re so used to seeing in play-off matches.
83% of West Brom’s home games have seen both teams score, and I don’t believe the absence of Gayle will prevent them from finding the net against Villa. However, only seven sides have conceded more home goals than Sam Johnstone has for The Baggies, so expect Villa to reply with interest.
By 2pt Best Bet is for both teams to score.