Struggling Stoke remain entrenched in the Championship's bottom three before Monday night's match-up against table-topping West Brom. Mark O'Haire previews the encounter.
Stoke v West Brom Monday November 4, 20:00 Sky Sports
Stoke offering precious little
Beleaguered then-Stoke boss Nathan Jones pulled no punches after seeing his Potters side limp towards a deserved 2-0 defeat at Millwall last time out. City were behind inside the opening half hour and the contest in the capital was decided by a penalty 15 minutes from time as Stoke struggled to exert any sort of dominance and created precious few clear-cut chances.
But with only five wins in 35 league games in charge, and four points adrift of safety, the Potters hierarchy reacted to their team's toothless display by pulling the trigger on Jones' tenure. The Welshman was dismissed nine months into his three-and-a-half year contract with assistant manager Paul Hart and first-team coach Joaquin Gomez also departing.
Rory Delap, Kevin Russell and Andy Quy have taken charge of the first team while a new manager is sought "as swiftly as possible". However, Stoke have already incurred the wrath of Preston, with the Deepdale side penning a strongly worded statement refusing the Potters permission to speak to their contracted head coach Alex Neil about the vacancy.
West Brom held in consecutive contests
West Brom head into the weekend as Championship league leaders despite dropping points against Charlton at home last time out. The Baggies, who had earlier been reduced to 10 men following Nathan Ferguson's contentious red card, conceded a stoppage-time penalty against the capital club to only earn a share of the spoils in a 2-2 draw at The Hawthorns.
Matt Phillips rifled in Matheus Pereira's left-wing cross from close range to give the Baggies a 10th-minute lead, but the visitors drew level on the hour mark. Following Ferguson's sending off, substitute Hal Robson-Kanu curled in with nine minutes remaining to put Slaven Bilic's side 2-1 ahead, only for Charlton to level again in the fourth minute of added time.
Albion had opportunities to put the game to bed with Darnell Furlong and Grady Diangana guilty, but goalkeeper Sam Johnstone was also called into plenty of action in a lively affair in testing conditions. Post-match Bilic was critical of the last-gasp penalty decision that went against his side, as well as admitting the Baggies weren't close to their best.
Baggies firm favourites
Stoke and West Brom have been regular competitors over the past 15 years with the Baggies enjoying top honours more regularly in recent showdowns. Albion did the double over City last season and have registered W6-D2-L1 in nine head-to-head encounters since March 2015, including two triumphs in four trips to the Potteries during that same sample.
Stoke3.05 looked to finally be justifying their underlying performance data when picking up back-to-back wins over Swansea and Fulham either side of the international break, although the managerless' outfit have since fallen to successive defeats to Sheffield Wednesday and Millwall whilst offering precious little in attacking areas.
West Brom 2.30 have played out consecutive 2-2 home draws against newly-promoted pair Barnsley and Charlton but Slaven Bilic's Baggies have still lost just once in the Championship this season, with their sole defeat coming at Leeds in early October. And Albion have proven dangerous operators on the road, returning W4-D2-L1.
Albion can pick up positive result
Just three of the last 14 meetings between Stoke and West Brom have broken the Over 2.5 Goals barrier but 2019/20 trends point towards a possible high-scoring showdown when the duo lock horns on Monday evening.
Five of Stoke's seven fixtures as hosts have beaten the two-goal line as the Potters have shipped at least two goals in front of their home supporters on five occasions already this term. Those seven outings have averaged 3.00 goals per-game and should encourage a WBA outfit that's notched in all bar one league fixture during Slaven Bilic's reign.
In fact, 11 of Albion's overall 14 encounters have seen both sides score and it could pay to keep the visitors onside in a match featuring at least a couple of goals. We can support West Brom in the Double Chance market alongside Over 1.5 Goals at a generous 1.85 via Betfair Sportsbook's Same Game Multi option.