Barnsley vs West Brom Odds: Back on there to be cards in Friday's live Championship clash
Barnsley v West Brom Tips
Fans of a narrative will be delighted to see what fixture kicks off this weekend's shrivelling Championship docket as Valerien Ismael returns to Oakwell.
The French supremo hoisted Barnsley to their highest league finish since the turn of the century last campaign, a feat that did not go unnoticed. Ismael was lured away from South Yorkshire in the summer as he swapped S71 for the West Midlands and a shot at promotion to the top flight.
Since Ismael’s departure, the Reds' replacements have failed to hold a candle to their predecessor. Barnsley have rarely been out of the relegation zone and if it was not for Derby’s hefty point deductions would prop up the table. As it stands, they are eight points adrift of safety and six points behind 22nd placed Peterborough.
Despite the fact that Poya Asbaghi still awaits the first victory of his tenure, Barnsley’s boss is expected to name an unchanged side from the one that lost 2-1 at Deepdale last weekend. This will mean that Cauley Woodrow will continue to lead the line. The striker scored his first goal in 1,125 minutes of domestic action vs Preston and has struggled to rediscover the form he was in last campaign as he has only bagged a third of the goals he scored last season in almost two thirds of the time.
As for the visitors, a COVID outbreak forced them to field a threadbare eleven last Saturday that saw winger Adam Reach and central midfielder Jake Livermore partner Kyle Bartley in defence. Nevertheless, the Baggies put in one of their finest displays of the Ismael era to date. The 1-0 scoreline flattered the Royals, best illustrated by the fact that WBA generated an xG two and a half goals bigger than their opposition.
With two players in isolation until the day of the game and two in isolation until the day after it, it is unlikely that anyone of the defensive quartet that tested positive for coronavirus- Matt Clarke, Semi Ajayi, Conor Townsend and Cedric Kipre- will return here. Therefore, it looks like West Brom will have to continue with the makeshift defence.
Since Markus Schopp got the chop at Barnsley there has been signs of defensive improvement under the new man at the helm, however, this has come at the expense of their attacking output.
In the 15 games under Schopp, Barnsley averaged; 10.6 shots, 3.4 shots on target, 0.67 goals and 1.33 goals against per game. Every one of these offensive metrics have decreased under Asbaghi. Although it is worth pointing out that this is only from a small sample size, the trend appears to be pretty clear.
The data also shows a defensive improvement. Barnsley are conceding 1.4 less shots, 2.2 less shots on target and 0.33 less goals per game. The underlying data also implies that their performances have warranted this improvement as they have conceded 0.59 xGA less per game.
Nevertheless, Barnsley have only scored twice in their last four games and with the new manager still awaiting his first win draws doth butter no parsnips.
West Brom have kept three clean sheets in their last four league games, only shipping one goal in that time. Given the hosts' attacking woes and the visitors' recent defensive solidarity, opposing both teams to score here seems like the smart play. I would advise 1.5 points on this.
As previously alluded to, Ismael used to manage Barnsley and this means that most of Barnsley’s current players played under him last campaign. Given the circumstances in which he jumped ship, I not only suspect that Oakwell may be a bit hostile but that the hosts XI will have a point to prove. Both of which bodes well for a tight, low scoring affair here.
Interestingly, WBA have won four games by a 1-0 scoreline this season, two of which came against Posh and Hull- newly promoted sides- and one came against Reading- currently 23rd in the league. It is also worth noting that they drew 0-0 to 24th placed Derby and their game with the other promoted side, Blackpool, ended the same way.
In all four of these games, the Baggies generated xG of over two but struggled to score the goals the chances justified. I think this not only paints a picture of their wasteful nature but their inability to break down sides that deploy a stubborn low block.
Ismael said at the start of the season that his side will be an out of possession team and when their opposition do not want the ball the clash of styles often leads to a dull game with a distinct lack of goals.
I think their trip to Oakwell will follow this trend and would advise 0.5pts on the 0-1 correct scoreline.
Given the sense of occasion, the fact it is an evening kick off and the presence of TV cameras I think cards could be a play here. It is also worth noting that one of the league's most card happy referees is overseeing this game between the 7th and 8th best sides for ill-discipline this season.
No Championship referee to take charge of 12 or more league games this season has brandished more cards per game than Tim Robinson’s 4.80. Robinson has dealt 17 cards in his last two games and the last time he was in action on a Friday there were nine yellows!
Barnsley’s Mad Anderson looks an irresistible pick despite the short price. The big defender has been carded in half of his six league appearances this season and has accumulated 22Y and 1R card in three seasons at this level.
I also cannot resist backing Alex Mowatt on his return to South Yorkshire. The former Barnsley midfielder picked up 26 cards during his time at the club. He already has four to his name this season and I fancy him to add to that tally as he plays the pantomime villain here. Combining the two is 12/1 with Bet365.
Best of luck if you are backing any of these selections and please remember to gamble responsibly.
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