At every new year’s gathering there’s always a balance between those reflecting on a great past 12 months and those thinking the changing of the calendars can’t come quick enough.
That’s how fans of West Brom and Fulham are likely to be feeling come New Year’s Day, with Baggies followers still basking in the glory of the first half of their Champions League-challenging campaign, while Lilywhites loyals will be hoping 2013 also marks a new start to a season that has gone off the rails following a run of just one win in their last ten games.
With West Brom flying high in seventh place on the back of the second most home wins in the Premier League and Fulham suffering their usual away struggles with just one road win all season, Steve Clarke’s team are rightly favourites at 19/20, with the draw 11/5 and an away upset 14/5.
Only the two Manchester clubs have picked up more points than West Brom in home fixtures and a win at half-time and full-time over a side who’ve lost both halves on nine occasions this season seems possible at 11/5.
However, Clarke’s team have tended to leave their best form for after the interval, winning six of ten second halves on their own patch, so 17/4 for draw/West Brom and 7/5 for the Baggies to win the second half look good value.
The home team have also saved the majority of their goals for the second period and an opening goal of the game after the interval for West Brom is 21/20, with joint top scorers Shane Long and Romelu Lukaku both 6/1 to get it.
New customers using the free £20 bet they receive when registering with bwin could make a great start to the new year with an impressive £600 win should West Brom complete a 2-1 victory behind a Lukaku opener.
Yet Fulham don’t travel to the Hawthorns without hope, despite their poor form, having been much the better side in the reverse fixture back in September when they emerged 3-0 victors.
Should star forwards Dimitar Berbatov and Bryan Ruiz hit the form of the autumn, then Martin Jol’s men can pose a clear goal threat to a side who’ve kept just two clean sheets since September and it’s 7/10 for both teams to score.
But even with the confidence those records will give Fulham, their faltering form and the Baggies’ home comforts lead me to believe Clarke’s team will emerge entertaining victors at 2-1, 3-1 or 4-1 at a cracking price of 5/1.