Tony Pulis begins Baggies relegation battle, Foxes hunt further revival
New West Bromwich Albion head coach Tony Pulis begins his mission to keep the relegation battling Baggies in the Premier League with a home clash against Hull City. The Baggies, odds-on 4/11 to stay up, host Steve Bruce’s Tigers in Pulis’ first league game in charge at The Hawthorns.
Meanwhile, QPR travel to Turf Moor hoping to gain their first point on the road this season in a relegation six-pointer against Sean Dyche’s Burnley, with former Clarets forward Charlie Austin starring after being sent off in the reverse fixture.
Elsewhere, Leicester City hope to add to a recent revival in form when they host struggling Aston Villa in an East meets West Midlands derby.
Burnley v QPR
Harry Redknapp’s Hoops, 5/2 to win, will be hoping for New Year fortune on their travels, having lost all nine of their away games this season, and remain the only team in England without a point on the road.
QPR eased past Burnley earlier in the season with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Loftus Road, and will be aiming for another win as both sides look to avoid Premier League relegation.
Dyche’s Clarets find themselves in the drop zone, following a string of four league games without a win, and just a single victory in eight outings. However, the Hoops sit only two points clear of battling Burnley in 16th, securing three points on just one occasion in their previous five league fixtures.
Redknapp’s relegation battlers have the worst defensive record in this season’s top-flight, conceding 35 goals so far, and Dyche’s Burnley are 27/10 to win to nil.
Former Clarets striker Austin has been the key man for QPR this campaign, netting 12 times in 18 outings on his way to becoming the club’s top scorer. Talk of a possible England call-up has gathered pace following the clinical centre forward’s form and, after striking against his former employers in December, Austin is available at 5/1 to net the opener at Turf Moor.
West Brom v Hull City
Pulis will begin his West Brom survival mission against Hull, with the Welsh boss having never been relegated before in his managerial career.
The new Baggies boss will be expected to continue that impressive record at The Hawthorns, even-money to win, as the West Midlands outfit fight to climb from 17th spot.
Bruce’s men are also involved in the dreaded relegation scrap, with the Tigers only a single point ahead of West Brom, and two points clear of the drop zone.
Both relegation threatened teams claimed a point in the previous encounter at the KC Stadium, but West Brom emerged victorious in September’s Capital One Cup clash with a thrilling 3-2 win.
In-form Saido Berahino netted in the previous Tigers triumph and, after bagging four goals against Gateshead in the FA Cup, Pulis’ superb striker is 4/1 to open proceedings at The Hawthorns.
Leicester City v Aston Villa
Leicester, 6/5 to win, have began a mini revival recently, earning four points in their last two encounters, while Villa continue to struggle in 12th place.
Paul Lambert’s struggling side are without a win in five Premier League outings, playing out two consecutive goalless draws in their previous two fixtures. Toothless Villa are 15/2 to be involved in another strike-less stalemate at Leicester.
The Foxes remain rock-bottom of the league and four points from safety, but have started a small survival bid having earned victory at Hull and came from two goals down to claim a 2-2 draw at Anfield.
Lambert’s lacklustre Villa narrowly edged past Nigel Pearson’s men earlier this campaign with a 2-1 victory, despite an early Leonardo Ulloa opener. The Foxes forward is 6/5 to net at anytime at the King Power Stadium.