West Brom striker crisis gives edge to high-flying Everton
What would West Brom fans give to have Romelu Lukaku leading the line for them on Monday night instead of for opponents Everton?
The Chelsea loanee scored 17 times for the Baggies last season, but is now banging them in for the Toffees (nine so far in 19 games) and is just 5/4 with Coral to net against his old club (9/2 first or last). The usual muted celebrations in such circumstances will be small consolation for the home support.
This could be a big night for West Brom and their new Spanish boss Pepe Mel. Such is the congestion in the bottom half of the Premier League at the moment that a victory would take them from three points above the relegation zone right up into tenth position – as it stands now they are 7/1 with Coral to go down.
But there is a growing striker crisis at the Hawthornes. Stephane Sessegnon and former Everton front man Victor Anichebe are injury doubts, Shane Long has been sold to Hull and Nicolas Anelka is under threat of a lengthy ban for his controversial gesture at West Ham last month.
This may leave the extremely promising but still inexperienced Saido Berahino to shoulder even more of the goalscoring responsibilities. Berahino is the same age as Lukaku (20), but has made just 48 appearances compared to 137 by the Belgian.
Everton, on the other hand, are so happy with their strike-force that they have regarded Nikica Jelavic surplus to requirements and let him go.
Ross Barkley is out of action at the moment with a foot injury, but Roberto Martinez has nothing like the same worries as his compatriot as he continues to focus on a top four spot and Champions League football.
With Liverpool surprisingly held by Aston Villa on Saturday, a win for Everton would see them leapfrog their Merseyside rivals into fourth place ahead of the mouth-watering Anfield derby next week.
Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea seem to have the top three Premiership places between them at the moment, but fourth spot is very much up for grabs: Coral go 8/13 Liverpool finish in the top four, 7/4 Manchester United, 100/30 Spurs and 7/2 Everton.
A victory tonight (6/5) would do their cause no harm at all and though West Brom are capable of playing some really good stuff, the visitors may just have the edge, maybe 2-1 (17/2).