West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City have surprised many Premier League observers with the high standard of their performances this season, especially considering both were forced into managerial changes over the summer.
Steve Clarke has done even better at the Baggies’ helm than his predecessor, England gaffer Roy Hodgson, and his side were even sitting proudly in the Champions League places a few weeks ago.
However, three losses and a draw from their last four games has clouded over dreams of a trip to the Nou Camp next season and they will be wanting to get back to winning ways against Norwich.
Former Chelsea and Liverpool assistant Clarke started the season impressively and before their 3-1 loss at Swansea at the back end of November, the Midlands side had won four in a row, including a 2-1 triumph over the Blues that ultimately cost former Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo his job at Stamford Bridge.
West Brom are priced at 19/20 to get back to winning ways on Saturday and improve on their home record of six wins from nine games, which is the third best in the Premier League.
Should they be victorious then they could find themselves shooting up into third place, such is the tightly-knit nature of the top half the Premier League table, barring the two Manchester goliaths.
Equally, Chris Hughton’s men could climb up to fifth with a win in the Black Country and considering their current form, an away triumph would not be all that surprising.
The East Anglian club hired Hughton to replace Aston Villa-bound Paul Lambert and sit just two points and one place behind West Brom in eighth.
Norwich have been on a remarkable run which has seen them win six and draw four of their last ten games in the Premier League.
Only Manchester United have amassed more points over their last six games and the visitors can be backed at a fairly generous 14/5 to continue their hot streak in this one.
The Canaries will take confidence from the fact that they have won the last two meetings between the sides, both by a 2-1 scoreline and both at the Hawthorns.
But as I so often do, and successfully did last week when previewing Everton’s trip to Stoke City, I think I’ll be putting on my splinter-proof underwear as I get ready to well and truly sit on the fence.
For my money, and anyone else’s who wishes to bet on this encounter, a draw at 12/5 provides the best value. I suppose now I have to tell you why.
Most of this lies with Norwich as they have drawn four of their last six away games and seven of 17 overall in the Premier League – more times than they have either won or lost.
With West Brom’s dip in form and the Canaries’ ability to avoid defeat, a stalemate in this clash feels like the likeliest outcome, which will keep both teams in the hunt for the European spots.
I honestly didn’t envisage that being the case at the start of the season, but the Premier League is one wacky place right now…
Top bet: West Brom and Norwich to draw @ 12/5