Table-topping West Brom tackle Swansea at The Hawthorns on Sunday . Mark O'Haire oversees the Championship contest...
West Brom v Swansea Sunday December 8, 12:00 Sky Sports
West Brom return to the top
Charlie Austin's controversial 90th-minute penalty sent West Brom back to the top of the Championship last Monday night as the Baggies snatched a last-gasp 1-0 victory at Preston. Home goalkeeper Declan Rudd was adamant he had not touched Albion substitute Kyle Edwards but referee Oliver Langford pointed to the spot and Austin coolly slotted home.
The spot-kick gave West Brom a fifth successive victory but they left it late at Deepdale as injury-hit Preston, without a host of players including their entire first-choice back line, looked set to earn a point. WBA - the Championship's top scorers - had been largely limited to efforts from distance, while Kyle Bartley spurned Albion's only real clear-cut chance.
Slaven Bilic's side have now suffered a solitary league defeat all season and have racked up nine triumphs from 12 since mid-September, leaving the Croatian head coach a very happy man post-match. He said, "If any team deserved to win it was us. You can't imagine how big a result this is for us because Preston is a very difficult place to come and play."
Swansea suffer more Liberty misery
Two first-half Fulham strikes proved to be decisive as Swansea slumped a second successive home defeat and fourth fixture without a win. Steve Cooper's side surrendered their position inside the Championship's top-six as their Liberty Stadium woes continue; the Swans have now won just one of their past seven second-tier outings in south Wales.
In truth, Swansea were unfortunate to be two goals down having been the better side for long periods, and they deservedly got back into the game through George Byers' 65th-minute header. It was a spirited performance that saw Byers' also hit a post, whilst Sam Surridge saw an effort saved at point-blank range visiting goalkeeper Marek Rodak.
Post-match, Cooper was keen to focus on the positives, saying, "We came up against a team who could compete in the Premier League - certainly the investment into their squad is a Premier League budget - and we made them look ordinary on so many occasions. I thought it was our best performance for a while and that's why we are frustrated not to get a draw."
Ace Albion hard to oppose
West Brom did the double over Swansea when the two teams locked horns last season. The Baggies were cushy 3-0 winners as recently as March here at The Hawthorns, and Albion have bagged W4-D2-L1 in the duos last seven encounters in the Black County.
West Brom 1.67 have earned 23 points from a possible 28 (W7-D2-L0) since suffering their sole Championship reverse under Slaven Bilic at Leeds in early October. The Baggies remain unbeaten at The Hawthorns (W5-D4-L0) and have only failed to score once this season. Albion also average the second-highest Expected Goals (xG) figure per-game (1.67).
Swansea5.30 started the season like a train under Steve Cooper. The Welsh club earned 16 points from a possible 18 in August (W5-D1-L0) but have since collected 14 points from their following 13 tussles (W3-D5-L5). Nevertheless, the visitors remain the only EFL club without an away league defeat this term (W4-D5-L0), only once shipping two or more goals.
Back Baggies in high-scoring showdown
Four of the past six meetings between West Brom and Swansea have crossed the Over 2.5 Goals mark but a repeat has been chalked up at an unbackably short price of 1.57 for Sunday's contest. Even so, Albion's outings at The Hawthorns have been thrilling affairs with an average of 4.11 goals per-game seen across their nine home matches under Slaven Bilic.
Swansea's away days have produced largely low-scoring match-ups, although it's difficult to dismiss the overwhelming numbers in favour of a goal-glut. All nine of WBA's home fixtures have featured both sides scoring with 6/9 (67%) breaking the Over 3.5 Goals barrier.
With that in mind, there's enough evidence to suggest West Brom to win and Over 1.5 Goals is worth backing at1.85. It's a selection that's banked in nine of the Baggies 12 triumphs in 2019/20.