West Brom play at home for the first time in three weeks on Saturday as they welcome Sunderland to the Hawthorns for a mid-table clash in the Premier League, with on-loan Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku set to lead the line once more.
Lukaku, the 19-year-old Belgian forward, has been making an increasingly huge impact at the Midlands club this season after last year, his first in England, involved rather a lot of bench-sitting for his parent club.
This season, Lukaku has been a more regular starter for Steve Clarke’s Baggies side, occasionally rotating with Shane Long, and with his late strike against Liverpool a fortnight ago – which actually came as a substitute – he climbed to the top of the club’s scoring charts in all competitions with ten to his name.
The striker has already found the net against Sunderland this season, scoring from the penalty spot in a 4-2 win at the Stadium of Light, and having managed to score in both of the Baggies’ games against Reading and Liverpool too, he could make it a hat-trick of doubles this weekend.
Lukaku is available at 4/1 to notch the opening goal of the game – as he has done on three occasions already this term – but his 13/10 any time scorer price is undoubtedly the preferred option.
With the main goal threat on show in their ranks, it’s not surprising to see the home side installed as 19/20 favourites in bwin’s 3-way betting market.
Sunderland will be aware of the threat that Lukaku poses, but stopping him may not be a simple task for a side that has conceded nine goals in their last four away games and find themselves at 29/10 to win and 23/10 to get a draw.
Martin O’Neill’s team also have a terrible recent record against this weekend’s opposition, having lost five and drawn one of the last six meetings going back to 2009.
West Brom, then, will be hoping to live up to their favourites tag, but it has to be noted that the 2-0 win over Liverpool was their first in nine games and they have won only one of their last seven home games in all competitions.
The smash-and-grab triumph at Anfield might just have re-ignited what was a highly promising season in the early months and give them the impetus to get another three points on Saturday, but even if it does, we shouldn’t expect to see too many goals at the Hawthorns.
Sunderland (6) and West Brom (5) and been involved in the least number of games with over 3.5 goals this term, so your money is likely to be secure with 7/25 on under 3.5 goals being scored.
Another good option for this match is 67/100 on West Brom to score the final goal, as they have struck ten times in the final 15 minutes of games, compared to Sunderland, who have managed it just three times.
Intriguingly, Marc-Antoine Fortune rounded off the scoring in the previous meeting as he added the Baggies’ fourth in injury time – after Lukaku had notched with nine minutes of normal time remaining – so it’s surely worth another punt on Clarke’s men having the final say.
And if you think Lukaku will be the man to provide it, you can back the big Belgian at a tempting 4/1.