It was no surprise to see West Bromwich Albion hammered at Stamford Bridge last weekend but it’s certainly a shock that the Baggies are no bigger than 2.50 with the bookies to beat Sunderland on Saturday and I’ll definitely be opposing them.
It was never going to be easy for Roberto Di Matteo and his side in West London at the home of the champions on their latest return to top flight football but the manner of defeat must have worried the Italian and it could be a very long season for the Championship runners-up.
West Brom, who finished comfortably in second place behind Newcastle, impressed last term in front of their own fans, winning on 16 occasions, but the Premier League is clearly a different test altogether and Sunderland will not be fazed by their visit to the West Midlands.
West Brom’s opening 6-0 defeat sees them rooted to the bottom of the table after the first week’s action and were it not for Lee Cattermole’s needless sending off seven days ago they would have been facing a Sunderland side that had started with maximum points.
The Black Cats were in complete control of their clash with Birmingham, Darren Bent opening the scoring before Steven Carr put through his own net, and were it not for Cattermole’s dismissal then surely they’d have registered a win. >
Liam Ridgewell’s injury time strike earned Birmingham a share of the spoils, it finished 2-2 at the Stadium of Light, and Sunderland will be keen to make up for the disappointment. Their overall record on the road last season wasn’t great, but their performances against the so-called lesser sides was more than adequate and I can’t turn down the opportunity to have them and the draw on my side at the prices.
While Steve Bruce will be without the suspended Cattermole and influential figures Lorik Cana and Kenwyne Jones who departed in the summer, most of Sunderland’s better performances last season came without the latter named duo and I’m not concerned by their absence. Paraguayan midfielder Cristian Riveros, who created a favourable impression in South Africa, is expected to deputise and I expect Bruce to ask Bent to play as a lone striker.
While Sunderland have top-10 ambitions this season, it is all about survival for West Brom and in a few weeks time the prices quoted for Saturday’s clash at The Hawthorns could be made to look foolish. I have West Brom no shorter than around the 2.90 mark and that means the lay is a strong one.
3pts Lay West Brom (vs. Sunderland) @ 2.58 (Betfair)