With the 2015/16 Premier League season seeing West Bromwich Albion play their football in the top flight for the sixth successive season, their longest run since a ten season spell between 1976 and 1986, and having seen them improve to finish 13th last season after surviving by just three points the previous season they will feel confident coming into this new campaign.
The 2014/15 Premier League season was, to coin a football phrase, a game of two halves for the Midland side as they ended 2014 having collected just 17 points from 19 games to sit two places and one point above the relegation zone before turning things around to finish 13th with 44 points from 38 matches. The reasoning for this was the sacking of manager Alan Irvine in late December and the hiring of former Stoke City and Crystal Palace manager Tony Pulis. Pulis oversaw the collection of 27 points from 19 games, including beating Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford and Chelsea 3-0 at home, to see the side secure. He has never been relegated as a manager so the club will certainly be feeling confident about this upcoming season.
2015/16 EPL Preview:
Tony Pulis has a reputation as a manager who makes his sides difficult to beat first and foremost as he sets his side’s up to defend tightly as a unit while generally playing long ball football to create chances against the opposition. This is again what he will be aiming for with West Brom this season and he seen several players moved out of the club to make room and free up money for players of his own choosing to bulk up and add to the quality already at the club. They have shown in recent seasons that when they have a prolific goal scorer in the squad they will do reasonably well with Lukaku netting 17 times 2012/13 seeing them eighth while Peter Odemwingie’s 25 goals in 2010/11 and 11/12 seeing them 11th and 10th. If the plans to lure Demba Ba back from Turkey come to fruition to see him play alongside Saido Berahino, who bagged 14 EPL goals last season, we could see another top ten placing for The Baggies next May.
Ins and Outs:
James McLean – At the time of writing Tony Pulis and West Brom have had many rumours circulating about them, with the Demba Ba one mentioned above the most prominent of these, but the only certain player incoming player to The Hawthorns this summer is James McLean. The 26 year old Irishman arrives from Wigan Athletic, who were relegated to League One last season, for £1.5m and brings top flight experience from Wigan as well as previous club Sunderland to the table. He plays on the left side of midfield and has plenty of pace as well as a wicked left foot and under the stability of Pulis and West Brom he is sure to recapture the form that seen him capped 27 times by Ireland.
There have been nine players released by the Midlanders following the conclusion of their contracts on July 1st and the biggest names on the way out of the club is defender Chris Baird and midfielders Graham Dorrans and Youssuf Mulumbu who have been at the club since 2008 and 2009 respectively. There will be a hole in the side with the loss of these three players in particular, but the fans can be assured that Tony Pulis will be working tirelessly to add talent to the squad.
West Brom EPL Preview Bets:
Online bookmaker Bet365.com believe that West Bromwich Albion will be a side that is closer to the bottom of the league rather than the top as they make them 2001.00 outsiders to lift the title and just 5.50 to be relegated. These relegation odds leaves them eighth bottom of the 20 sides in the league with Newcastle, Leicester and Aston Villa all similarly priced. Both offer value, but neither are likely to happen with there being zero chance of them taking the title and with Pulis never having been relegated as a manager as well as having a solid side to control we feel that that The Baggies are safe from a bottom three place.
What does this leave for the Midlands based team? They do offer value at odds of 4.00 in the Bet365 Sportsbook to finish in the top ten of the Premier League next season, while they are joint second favourites with Aston Villa to finish as the best side from the Midlands at odds of 5.00. Stoke City are best priced in that market at 1.91 while Aston Villa make up the four sides @ 6.00. We are tempted by both of these as if Saido Berahino can have another excellent season and be joined by another top drawer striker partner then things are looking good for West Brom supporters for this coming season.
We feel that The Baggies are overpriced in the battle against Stoke, Leicester and Aston Villa in the battle to the top side from the Midlands and we’re backing them to top this foursome at odds of 5.00 with Bet365.com.