Seemingly keen to dampen expectations after going off like a firework at the beginning of last season West Brom slumped from the stalls in 2013/14, but they’ve regained their composure and should be backed for victory to nil against Stoke at generous odds of 5/1.
Steve Clarke’s outfit are 9/4 underdogs in the win/draw/win market, with a home victory 6/5 and the stalemate 11/5.
After a bright start under Mark Hughes the Potters have lost their last three league games.
Four games in, Stoke had two wins and a draw with many pundits pre-season champions-elect Manchester City under their belts as well as a narrow loss to then league-leading Liverpool.
However since the Citizens draw their losing streak includes handing Norwich only their third away win since April 2012 and tottering Fulham a morale-boosting victory.
West Brom have conceded just twice in three games away from the Hawthorns this term.
Early season travails were exclusively a matter for home fans to chew over, with points gained from trips to Goodison Park and Craven Cottage, followed by a rare but thoroughly deserved win over Manchester United at Old Trafford.
They’re now unbeaten in five games in all competitions if a draw after extra-time against Arsenal in the Capital One Cup is deemed worthy evidence.
13 of Stoke’s 19 defeats since the beginning of last term have seen them fail to score.
The recipe for victory against the candy-striped midlanders centres upon defensive surety and given they were shut out in 17 of their 42 games in all competitions in 2012/13 it’s easy to see why.
It’s no coincidence that their two league victories this season have come in the only games in which they managed to register goals.
An ultra-stodgy Baggies midfield which employed Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu in fun-spoiling tandem was able to limit Arsenal’s array of creative talents to a single goal last time out.
This suggests that if an exciting forward line that includes in-form duo Saido Berahino and Morgan Amalfitano (both of whom netted at Old Trafford) can get West Brom noses in front then Clarke’s men should be able to protect their lead.