Only two of West Brom’s past six home matches have breached the 2.5-goal mark, with the three witnessed in the Baggies 2-1 loss to Everton the most seen over 90 minutes since late February.
Under 2.5 goals is bwin’s roaring favourite at 12/25 when Middlesbrough travel to the Hawthornes, but there are reasons to believe backing over 3.5 at 15/4 might prove prudent.
For starters, if Cristhian Stuani keeps pumping home 25-yard efforts like he did in Aitor Karanka’s side’s 2-1 win at Sunderland, where the Uruguayan scored both his team’s goals, then host boss Tony Pulis’ deep-lying tactics will surely be penetrated eventually.
Boro have started the season ok, conceding just twice in games against the Black Cats and Southampton, but former Aston Villa keeper Brad Guzan momentarily reverted to last season’s relegation form at the Stadium of Light, pushing a shot into Patrick van Aanholt’s path for Sunderland’s goal.
Not only will Guzan have to deal with the aerial threats of centre-forward Salomon Rondon and centre-half Gareth McAuley, West Brom’s top scorer in all competitions so far this term with two, but could be faced with a forward who desperately needs to impress in this match.
Saido Berahino could be out of the side when clubs come back from the international break, with forwards Islam Slimani, Jay Rodriguez and Diafra Sakho strongly linked with moves to the Black Country.
It seems Berahino is sitting tight until his contract runs out next summer, but unless he fancies a season going stale on the sidelines, falling further behind in the England pecking order, the 23-year-old should be looking for a move now.
At least one goal against Boro at 5/2 would at least give him a headline or two as the transfer window slams shut.
Matches between these two in the Premier League have averaged just over 2.5 goals, with two of their previous ten in the top flight seeing four struck, so it needn’t be so much to ask.