English Premier Soccer Pick: Sunderland vs West Bromwich Albion

Lee Phelps

Friday, February 20, 2015 3:16 PM GMT

Friday, Feb. 20, 2015 3:16 PM GMT

It's been a bad week for Sunderland and their manager, so how does that affect the betting? William Hill's Lee Phelps has been looking at the odds as he finds some free picks.

These sides both need four more wins to be safe in the Premier League or less than a point a game in the remaining 13 fixtures.

Both have Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion have averaged more or less a point per match so far, so mathematically they shouldn’t worry too much, but of course they will. So who should be more worried?

Suderland are trading at +170 soccer odds and West Bromwich Albion are trading on +190 soccer odds.

 

Sunderland
Gus Poyet wears his heart on his sleeve and whether he was misquoted by the Press or not, he has angered the Sunderland faithful. Forums and phone-ins in the UK have been full of supporters asking for him to go.

So much so, that the Uruguayan penned an open letter this week:

“I was brought into the club to stay in the Premier League first and most, then get stability and then progress with an identity in our game.

“The first goal was the most difficult task of my life but we not only stayed up in a miraculous way, we went to Wembley for the first time in years, plus successful games against our biggest rivals and enjoyed some incredible victories away from home. What we achieved last year was achieved by all of us together: club (chairman, directors, staff and players) and fans, nobody and I mean nobody from outside helped us a bit, it was only us together.

“Then my second aim was to achieve stability, progression and then slowly start bringing a special way of playing football to make you very proud of our team. This takes time, but even if the aim is clear during the process, we need to keep competing and winning games somehow.

I am really looking forward to see the Stadium of Light packed on Saturday, pushing the team to what could be a very important victory.”

I’m not sure if this will bring the club back together again or not. An early goal for them, will no doubt raise the Stadium of Light ‘roof’, but equally if West Brom get an early lead, the fans will be quick to show their disapproval however impassioned Poyet has been.

 

West Brom
The Tony Pulis effect is starting to be seen at the Hawthorns, with nine points gained from a possible 18, coupled with a convincing 4-0 FA Cup fifth-round win over West Ham. He has Saido Berahino happy again and Brown Ideye is finally scoring goals as he starts to repay some of that £10 million transfer fee.

The Baggies could end the weekend in 12th with a win and helpful results elsewhere. Experienced goalkeeper Ben Foster has been talking about the Pulis' impact:

"When the gaffer first came in we had a meeting and he gave us this little stat that was a diamond one - every clean sheet that you keep in the Premier League is worth an average of 2.1 points," Foster told the Birmingham Mail.

"He set us a target of 10 clean sheets before the end of the season. If we can keep clean sheets we are going to get a good chunk of the points we need. We definitely look more solid.

"I've worked with Tony Pulis before at Stoke, I know what he's about and, for a team like us, he's an absolute diamond, he's exactly what we need.

"He's very much old school, very much in charge of everything and that's how it is, there aren't any grey areas. It's very black and white."

 

Soccer picks
I’ve used those two quotes to show where these two clubs are in terms of confidence and togetherness. Poyet is pleading with fans in the Press, while Pulis has experienced players lauding him in public. There is nothing about Sunderland that makes me want to back them, especially the fact that they have only won two home games all season.

West Brom have only lost two games since August in the league, so the obvious soccer pick on the outrights here is the draw at 3.3 (23/10). The Black Cats have drawn six at home and the Baggies have picked up a point five times on their travels.

Free soccer pick: Draw 3.3 (23/10)

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