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The Midlands is a funny one when it comes to football.
Birmingham and Villa hate each other. Birmingham and Wolves hate each other. Villa and Wolves hate each other. West Brom hate everyone, but nobody particularly despises them enough to validate them in either Brum or the Black Country. It’s an unfortunate situation, but there’s always Wallsall.
In fact, the only positive I can offer Baggies fans is that you absolutely can’t be relegated by Wolves here. Even if Brighton beat Leeds and you lose 600-0 to your ‘rivals’ of sorts, you’re not mathematically down. And they’re the depths of positivity that come with supporting a side who believe ‘boing boing’ is a war cry.
But, for all that they’ve been poor, at least they’ve existed. The early-season sacking, the hammering of Chelsea and the bizarre belief in Big Sam are all highlights, but Wolves have just quietly underachieved by their now lofty standards.
Sometimes it’s better to die a hero than avoid relegation long enough so that you don’t quite make the big bucks, but are always threatened with Thursday night trips to eastern Europe. At least I think that was the quote. Here are the three best bets for the game that nobody really believes is a derby.
Ah yeah. For as much as I’d like to sit here and write these both of as boring, that’s the one thing they’re not in truth.
Even for a season as droll as Wolves’, they’ve still been enjoyable to watch – whether that’s a good or a bad thing. It’s been more often the latter, but I’m happy to admit they’re far more appealing to watch than the likes of Newcastle or Palace.
Monday 18:00 – West Brom v Wolves
Sky Sports Main Event / Sky Sports Premier League
Without there being any focus whatsoever on the result for Wolves, they can unleash their front three now and not have them drop back to press a side in possession, nor will they need them to cover full-backs. And West Brom? Well, they’ll be shooting on sight.
A nice price, that. Especially when you consider defending doesn’t lend itself to anyone’s ambitions for this. I also quite like the fact that while these aren’t derbies in the strictest sense, but games between them are generally played at a mad pace.
Both sides have combined for 20 games this season to have hit four goals or more, which is an average of about 27% – and that’s more often in situations where points will be welcomed.
This is half me covering myself for saying it isn’t a derby, but also me realising that Wolves have a few fiery players in their squad, and West Brom haven’t quite landed at that point where the hammer blow of relegation has hit them.
And unlike Fulham and Sheffield United, West Brom’s culture is to be naturally aggressive and invested because of who their manager is. And at this price? It’s kind of a fun bet to have onside just in case.
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