West Brom boss Tony Pulis doesn’t get relegated, that much we’ve learned across his 24-year managerial career.
Not once has the Welshman donned a club-crested baseball cap and taken a team down and, thanks to his sides’ 1-0 win at Everton last weekend, any lingering doubts about their chances of Premier League survival this season were promptly expunged.
Their smash-and-grab Goodison Park victory saw them move to within four points of the Premier League’s top-half and an appetising run of fixtures (as far as they’re concerned, anyway) can see them gobble up the points to hall themselves above the divisional waistline.
Their prospects were further enhanced by an FA Cup loss at Championship side Reading; now all resources can be re-directed to focus on attaining the best league finish possible.
Just as no Pulis side has never been demoted, there isn’t a team the Welshman has managed to guide into the ten elite clubs in the country either, but if the Baggies’ form against the big guns continues in the coming weeks, they could land a top-ten berth and simultaneously reward those who back it with a 20/1 payday.
Crystal Palace, with whom they share a points tally at present, are just 6/1 to achieve the feat, despite their evident goalscoring struggles and the fact that they, akin to West Brom, have won just three of their last 13 Premier League matches.
When placed in this context, the value in backing the Throstles is undeniable.
It’s Palace who they face next and three points will see them well poised to break into the top ten ahead of a cushy run of clashes with Leicester, Manchester United and Arsenal.
League standings would suggest West Brom are more likely to head in the opposite direction across this testing spate, but if the division was comprised solely on results garnered against top-half opponents, Pulis’ troops would sit seventh at present.
From 12 meetings with such sides so far, they’ve endured just four defeats, collecting points at a rate of 1.17 per match.
There’s a sizeable discrepancy between their average against these teams and Manchester City’s, who have just 0.92, while Chelsea boast a shameful 0.85 (their only two wins against top-ten dwellers both coming against Arsenal).
Should they maintain this strong record against their forthcoming opponents, the Baggies enter a run of games against sides of similar stature and, with confidence swollen from a previous batch of unanticipated points procured, they stand a better chance of snaring a top-ten finish than their price indicates.