WBA under pressure
Even before the start of this Championship season, West Bromwich Albion were considered one of the hottest candidates for promotion to the Premier League. So far, however, the team of former Bundesliga player Valerien Ismael has only been able to live up to this role to a limited extent. Although the Baggies are currently still in fifth place, their performances have dropped off considerably in recent weeks.
With this in mind, the odds on a home win in Wednesday night’s matchday 25 replay between West Brom and Preston are relatively low. While the home side have only won one of their last five matches, the visitors from the north-west of the country have a more than solid eight points from their last five games. Is a surprise even within the realms of possibility?
We probably wouldn’t go that far out on a limb, but we can still expect a close and competitive game. Therefore, a West Brom vs. Preston prediction on rather few goals in the course of the game might be interesting. In view of the current lull of the home side, an offensive spectacle is not necessarily to be believed in
West Brom – Statistics & current form
During his playing career, Valerien Ismael was regarded as a refined and combative defender. The Frenchman was under contract with FC Bayern, Werder Bremen and Hannover 96, among others, before he also took his first steps as a coach in Germany. After brief intermezzos in Nuremberg, Wolfsburg, Greece and Austria, the former centre-back has now found his fortune in England.
As head coach of West Bromwich Albion, Ismael has only one goal in mind: a return to the Premier League. However, this will be a difficult task, especially as the Championship is very tightly packed and there are only two direct tickets for the top flight. Currently, the Baggies, who have one of the strongest squads in the league, “only” manage to finish fifth.
When will the offense finally get rolling?
Seven points behind second-placed Blackburn. But if a bet on a three-pointer by the hosts pays off in West Brom’s home game against Preston on Wednesday night, that gap could be reduced to four points. The West Midlands club’s 3-0 win over Peterborough United last weekend ended a five-match winless streak, and that’s a hopeful sign.
However, the Thrushes were not entirely convincing against the relegation candidates. All three goals in what looked on paper to be a commanding victory only came in the last twelve minutes of the game. This in turn underlines what is currently lacking at WBA – the offensive. In six of the last nine matches, the promotion aspirants failed to score a goal of their own. Since the end of August, the Baggies have scored two or more goals in just five of their 20 league matches. No other team in the top six has a less dangerous attack.
The strengths, however, are – how could it be otherwise with a former defender as coach – in the defence. The only 20 goals conceded correspond to the absolute top value in the Championship. In total, only two goals were conceded on average in matches involving WBA, which increases the likelihood that on Wednesday evening between West Brom and Preston, the forecast will once again be for a sub 2.5. As, incidentally, has been the case in ten of the fifth-placed side’s last twelve Championship games….
Predicted West Brom line-up:
Johnstone; Kipre, Bartley, Clarke; Furlong, Livermore, Mowatt, Townsend; Grant, Robinson, Diangana
Last West Brom games:
01/22 2022 – West Bromwich Albion 3 – 0 Peterboro
01/15 2022 – Queens Park Rangers 1 – 0 West Bromwich Albion
01/08 2022 – West Bromwich Albion 1 – 2 Brighton
01/02 2022 – West Bromwich Albion 1 – 1 Cardiff
12/27 2021 – Derby 1 – 0 West Bromwich Albion
Preston – Statistics & current form
Preston North End Football Club will always be sure of a special place in the history books of English football. In 1889, the club from the North West crowned themselves the very first champions on the island. The Blue and Whites also claimed the first double. For seven seasons now, however, the second-tier Championship has been the home of the Lilywhites.
This is not likely to change much in the near future, because as 15th they have a comfortable lead of 14 points over the relegation zone, although they are also a full eleven points behind first place, which would entitle them to the playoffs. Grey mediocrity is the reality at Deepdale, although there has been some hope for improvement recently.
How does PNE cope with the first defeat under the new coach?
Since 43-year-old Ryan Lowe took the reins at the prestigious Preston club in early December, there has definitely been an upward trend. PNE have picked up a respectable eight points from their first five league games under his stewardship and have climbed out of the bottom of the table. Lowe’s first league defeat came last weekend, however, when he was beaten 1-0 by Swansea City in Wales.
It is particularly noticeable that the new coach has stabilised the defence. The Lilywhites had one of the weakest defensive lines in the Championship, especially in the first third of the season, and have only conceded more than one goal since the end of November in a 2-2 draw with Sheffield United. As underdogs, the visitors will adopt a similarly safety-based approach at The Hawthorns, so we tend to expect fewer goals.
This is also supported by the meagre offensive output of only 29 goals in 26 games. The return of Andrew Hughes, who plays an important role in the three-man backline and was recently suspended, can also be understood as an argument for the fact that the odds on sub-par goals between West Brom and Preston contain an appealing value.
Predicted Preston line-up:
Iversen; Van den Berg, Bauer, Hughes; Olosunde, Whiteman, Browne, Cunningham; Johnson; Riis Jakobsen, Evans
Last matches played by Preston:
01/22 2022 – Swansea 1 – 0 Preston
01/18 2022 – Preston 2 – 2 Sheffield United
01/15 2022 – Preston 1 – 1 Birmingham
01/09 2022 – Cardiff 2 – 1 Preston
01/03 2022 – Stoke 1 – 2 Preston
West Brom – Preston Direct Comparison / H2H Balance
70 matches have been played between the clubs in the highest division of the country. On Wednesday evening they will meet for the 30th time in the Championship. With 15 wins, six draws and only eight defeats, WBA clearly leads the direct comparison.
The Baggies have won all of their past eight second division home games against the Lilywhites, which naturally suggests that the PL relegated side are clear favourites going into this fixture. However, the first leg this season ended in a 1-1 draw. It was the third duel in a row in which a maximum of two goals were scored.
West Brom – Preston Tip
While there are already numerous catch-up games in the Championship on Tuesday evening, Wednesday is all about West Brom versus Preston. According to the betting odds, a home win is obvious.
The fifth-placed team with promotion aspirations meets the 15th-placed team, who at least managed to get out of the dangerous zone recently.
In terms of form, however, the teams are much closer, especially as the visitors have lost only one of their last five matches and have recorded eight points in this period under their new coach Lowe, who was introduced at the beginning of December. WBA, on the other hand, have just one win from their last five matches. In six of their last nine matches, Ismael’s side have failed to score a goal of their own.
This is one of the reasons why we think that betting on a maximum of two goals in the match between West Brom and Preston offers the most exciting value.