Best Odds: 9/4
It has the feel of a real Christmas six-pointer. With Mark Hughes rumored to have one final chance to salvage his job at Stoke, his side will be looking to bounce back after a woeful 3-0 home defeat to West Ham. On Saturday afternoon, Stoke will play host to a West Brom side looking for their first win 17 matches.
Although Mark Hughes may beg to differ, anything less than three points on Saturday afternoon will certainly see his position become untenable. With only one win in their last eight Premier League matches, the Potters are a side currently freefalling down the table. Currently sat 17th in the table, Stoke are now a single point above the drop zone, failure to win this weekend could see them into the relegation zone. Keeping only one clean sheet at the Bet365 Stadium this year, Stoke have only managed one win at home since September. Picking up only 16 points out of a possible 54, this has been the Potters worst start to a Premier League season in the clubs history.
Last weekend, fellow strugglers West Ham added to both Hughes’ and Stokes problems. Suffering an embarrassing 3-0 home defeat to the Hammers, no team has conceded more goals than Stoke this year. In fact, Hughes’ side have conceded two or more goals in 11 of their last 15 appearances.
Stoke will be without Bruno Martins Indi (groin) once again when they host West Brom on Saturday, while fellow defenders Kurt Zouma (hamstring) and Erik Pieters are major doubts.
There are also question marks over Charlie Adam, who has been nursing a hip problem. Glen Johnson (knee) has been training and could be back involved. Jese Rodriguez has returned after spending time in Gran Canaria with his ill son but it looks unlikely he will feature on Saturday.
As for the Baggies, like Stoke, the Midlands side are also on a torrid run of form. Although they may have put up a resilient performance against Manchester United last weekend, West Brom are now without a Premier League win in their last 16 matches. Drawing eight of those 16 games, slowly accumulating points has seen them stay within touching distance of top-flight safety. However, the Baggies new boss Alan Pardew will know the importance of finding some form over a bust Christmas period. Currently sat 19th in the table, West Brom are two points adrift of safety and have only found the net once in their last 4 matchups.
For the Baggies, their major problem this year has come in the final third. With only 13 goals in their 18 appearances, West Brom boasts a goalscoring record only worsened by Swansea. Only finding the net four times since October, no Baggies player has scored more than two league goals this season. Alan Pardew, will, however, be confident about carrying on his own personal record against Stoke. Pardew has won eight Premier League games against Stoke, including each of his last four matches.
West Brom boss Alan Pardew has been boosted by the news that attacking duo Nacer Chadli and Matt Phillips are fit after respective hip and hamstring injuries. Neither player has made an appearance in the Baggies four previous matches.
Defender Craig Dawson is nearing a return after a knee injury and has begun full training again. However, there is no date on when midfielder James Morrison will be available.
Key Factors to Consider
- This will be the 100th top-flight match between Stoke and West Brom, with the Potters ahead by 39 wins to 35.
- Stoke are winless in six Premier League games against the Baggies, losing four of them.
- Hughes’ side have 16 points after 18 matches, their lowest tally at this stage of a Premier League season.
- West Brom are enduring a club record 17-match winless run in all competitions.
- No West Brom player has scored more than two goals in the Premier League this season.
Both sides will enter Saturday’s contest feeling they have a perfect opportunity to pick up three points. However, it is a match that looks set to lack the usual Premier League excitement. Combined, both sides have only seen one win in their last 25 appearances and both boast an abysmal defensive record. With the Baggies only keeping two clean sheets away from the Midlands, coupled with Stoke conceding 11 goals in their last five home matches, we expect a rather scrappy draw could be on the cards.
Best Odds: 9/4
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