After a fortnight on the road, West Brom return to the Hawthorns on Saturday aiming to continue their stunning and wholly unexpected challenge for Champions League qualification against Stoke City.
Steve Clarke has enjoyed a dream first few months as a manager, watching his team surge up the table into the hallowed top four places – a situation that Baggies fans wouldn’t have even dared to dream about before the start of the season.
Along their merry way, West Brom have racked up memorable wins over Liverpool and Chelsea, while also giving champions Man City an almighty shock before eventually succumbing to a late, late Edin Dzeko brace.
But having won four games on the bounce in November, the Baggies were served a slice of reality on Wednesday evening.
Their trip to South Wales was not an enjoyable one as they were on the receiving end of a superb Swansea performance that saw Michael Laudrup’s men lead 3-0 inside 40 minutes.
Romelu Lukaku grabbed a consolation goal as West Brom went on to lose 3-1, but the defeat has not dented the confidence of the bookies as they have installed the home side as even-money favourites to pick up three points this weekend.
The draw is at 9/4, while Stoke are priced as long as 14/5 to triumph on their short trip to the Black Country, even though the Potters claimed their third win in four games in midweek as they came from behind to beat an out-of-form Newcastle United 2-1.
With recent form as strong as Stoke’s, you might think they would be shorter than they are, but those three victories all came at home and they are yet to claim their first win on the road.
In their seven away league games so far this season, they have only managed to accrue four points and they will get no change from a West Brom side who have the third-strongest home record in the Premier League behind the two Manchester clubs.
The Baggies, then, are fully deserving of their favourites tag, but there could be money to be made from betting against them scoring a hatful of goals.
Stoke’s defensive record (just 12 goals shipped in 14 games) is only bettered by Man City and half of their games have seen under 1.5 goals, so 2/1 on a repeat looks generous and you can also find 23/4 on West Brom to clinch a narrow 1-0 win.
With their superb rearguard, Stoke will fancy their chances of being able to shackle Shane Long and company for the vast majority of the game, but for me, West Brom will do what they have done six times this season already and score in the last 15 minutes and claim the win as a result.
Bwin is offering 7/10 on West Brom to score the final goal of the match and 27/20 on them to win the second half, with the latter returning £47 for anyone successfully backing it with their free £20 bet after registering.
It might not be pretty, but the Baggies’ extra class should eventually tell and backing them to come on strong after the interval is the way I’ll be playing this one.