iBet: West Brom will find things tougher without Lukaku
English Premier League
Back Aston Villa to finish above West Brom at 5/6
These could be two teams heading in opposite directions. I was a layer of Aston Villa last season, and I think that Paul Lambert did incredibly well to steer his squad of inexperienced players picked from the lower leagues around England and Europe to Premier League safety.
Remember that 8-0 thrashing at Stamford Bridge before Christmas, which could have been 12? Christian Benteke’s goals were crucial, and Lambert showed impressive skills in his handling of the Belgian’s transfer request. Lambert has continued to strengthen with young players while also looking to oust the over-paid ‘dead wood’ and with Benteke staying and a squad of hungry, young and, most importantly, now experienced players who look 100% behind him, a season of improvement surely awaits.
They have a tough start to the season, but it’s an exciting time to be a Villa fan. Things look a little different for Steve Clarke at West Brom. The Baggies had an amazing season, finishing eighth. But there has been next to nothing to spend over the summer and they are going to massively miss Romelu Lukaku, who returns to Chelsea after a brilliant 17 goal season which made him West Brom’s top scorer by a country mile. Anelka comes in, but he surely won’t be a prolific scorer, and Shane Long will need to step up from his eight-goal season.
Despite a seemingly brilliant campaign, West Brom still ended the season with a goal difference of -4 (compared to +28 for seventh-placed Liverpool. That illustrates the gulf between the top group of teams and the rest, and shows how easy it might be for a team like West Brom to slip into the pack.
Betfair Sportsbook has opened a market on when the first goal will be scored in the 3pm Premier League kick-offs today, with 0-5 minutes the 11/10 favourite, 5-10 minutes 9/4, 11-20 minutes looking the value at 3/1, 21-30 minutes 12/1 and any time after that 25/1.
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