WBA out to secure many happy returns at home - Betting Preview
As one of the surprise packages of this Premier League season, West Bromwich Albion find themselves challenging for Europe as 2012 becomes 2013, but inconsistent form recently has seen them drop valuable points. As they host the equally unpredictable Fulham side at the Hawthorns, manager Steve Clark will know a win will see West Brom rise to 5th.
The Baggies do have injury worries as they prepare for the Premier League's 2013 curtain raiser, as Youssouf Mulumbu, Jonas Olson, and Claudio Yacob are all doubtful to play any part in the 12:45 kick-off, but in a year that has seen the West Midland's club lose a manager who had led them to Premier League security, West Brom fans will be buoyant as the New Year looms. Clark has impressed in his first Premier League managerial job, and after picking up wins against Liverpool, Chelsea, and Everton already this season, the Baggies have proven themselves to be no push-overs.
However, they are out to avenge a heave 3-0 loss in the reverse fixture from September, a defeat that halted Clark's unbeaten run. That day, a Dimitar Berbatov double spurred Fulham on to victory, whilst Nigerian striker Peter Odemwingie saw red for kicking-out at Sascha Reither. The controversial front man hasn't carried the blistering form he found at times last season forward to this, but has netted four times in the league. This perceived lack f production could be viewed as positive for the Baggies, as he has been left out of the Nigeria squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations.
For the Cottagers, moments such as their convincing home win over West Brom in September have been sparse, and whilst they don't look in danger of going down, their form has been patchy at best, casting doubt over the belief that Martin Jol is the right man to take Fulham forward. Heavy losses to Spurs and Liverpool were compounded by disheartening defeats to QPR and Swansea, but Jol has come across as defiant in recent weeks.
After netting a brace in his home debut, Dimitar Berbatov hasn't provided the firepower that his early performance promised, yet has often looked dangerous alongside Mladen Petric. With the west London club missing their Croatian attacker, the onus will be on Berbatov to lead Fulham forward as they travel to the West Midlands.
As we head into the January transfer window, both managers will be able to use this performance as a yardstick, and after having already sold Chris Wood to Leicester City, WBA are expected to make some further rumblings, whilst the Craven Cottage team will need to add to their squad if they are to guarantee safety come March/April.
Coverage of the day's early kick-off begins on Sky Sports 1 at 12:30, and you can bet on over 180 pre-match markets with us, as well as 100+ in-play, so stay with William Hill - the Home of Betting.
Best Bet: Under 2.5 goals: 19/20
West Brom have won only three of their 13 Premier League encounters with Fulham, but all three of those wins have come at the Hawthorns.
WBA have failed to score in three of their last four league encounters with Fulham.
The Whites have won only one of their last 12 Premier League games (W1 D5 L6).
West Brom subs provided nine assists in 2012, a total only Stoke could match.
Fulham are only two points worse off than at this point last season
Five of Fulham's last six Premier League games have gone over 2.5 goals.
WBA have failed to score in four of their last six league games.
No team has collected fewer points over the past six Premier League games than Fulham (4).
Giorgos Karagounis has been booked in both of the games in which he has played the full 90 minutes.
West Brom have a 57% win percentage when Claudio Yacob has played this season but only 33% in the games he has missed.