EFL Championship preview and tip: West Bromwich Albion host Norwich City in must-win game for both
It was a sobering night for fans of West Bromwich Albion when they visited Bramall Lane on Wednesday evening. A win would have boosted the Baggies from ninth place into the play-off spots, but it was not to be and their 2-0 defeat to Sheffield United ensured Sunderland, who had themselves defeated West Brom last weekend, clung on to that vital sixth position in the table. Should West Brom fail to make the play-offs, which now appears likely, they would only have themselves to blame after failing to win any of their last three home matches. Draws against promotion rivals Millwall and relegation candidates QPR stunted their hopes before that aforementioned 2-1 home defeat against Sunderland.
Head coach Carlos Corberan will point to an element of misfortune in these results and he would have a case considering West Brom created 3.10xG compared to Sunderland's 0.83xG last time out.
Suggested bet: West Bromwich Albion to win
Games come thick and fast in the second tier of English football, meaning that it is imperative to respond quickly and West Brom will have that opportunity as Norwich City visit the Hawthorns on Saturday evening in what is a must-win game for both sides. Norwich themselves have turned their fortunes around following a poor first half of the campaign, and they now still have a slim chance of making the play-offs, albeit dependent on many other results going their way. One thing that David Wagner's side must do is win their remaining two games and that begins at the Hawthorns, before they host Blackpool who might well be already relegated before their clash on the final day. When these two sides met back in September at Carrow Road, the game ended in a 1-1 draw with both sides struggling to create clear-cut opportunities. Central defender Dara O'Shea gave West Brom an early lead before full-back Sam Byram's second-half strike sealed a point for the Canaries. Attacking players of both sides will hope to have more of an effect on this meeting, although it is highly likely that we are in for another cagey affair, especially in the early periods, considering what is on the line. Should either side lose their season is over, while a draw would also be no good for either team's chances of promotion. A betting angle worth exploiting should the circumstances fit, would be to lay the draw or back for another goal if these two sides cannot be separated in the final 20 minutes. Sam McCallum was sent off for Norwich last weekend in their 3-0 defeat to Swansea, so he will be suspended for this one. West Brom are likely to recall John Swift to the starting line-up as they look for more creativity than they produced at Bramall Lane. Despite their poor home form, the Baggies should come out on top in this one with the fans fully behind them at a rocking Hawthorns. We can expect a tightly-fought contest with few goals that ends with West Brom keeping their slim playoff hopes alive. Suggested bet: West Bromwich Albion to win
Paul Bathurst provides football tips as Soccer Sharp on Tipstrr
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