After spending a few seasons hovering between the Premier League and the Championship, West Brom have firmly established themselves in the top flight of English football and last season enjoyed an excellent campaign, eventually finishing in tenth position. So can manager Tony Pulis take the Baggies to the next level and challenge the top six?
Having finished in fourteenth position in the 2015-16 season, West Brom needed to improve last campaign and they did just that. They started strongly and at one point were within touching distance of the top five. They went on to pick up twelve wins, finishing the season with forty-five points and finishing in tenth. Only a poor end to the season, in which they failed to win any of their last ten Premier League games, prevented them from finishing higher.
West Brom have been handed a great start to the new Premier League season with fixtures against Burnley, Brighton, Bournemouth and West Ham all before the middle of September, which should help them get their campaign off to a great start and get some points on the board. Still, bookmakers remain cautious about their season-long prospects, and appear to be predicting a bottom-half finish. While you can back West Brom to win the Premier League at 1000/1 with Betfred, to finish in the top 6 at 40/1 with Black Type, and to make the top ten at 10/3 with BetVictor, Ladbrokes are best priced at 4/11 about them finishing in the bottom half, while you can back them at 6/1 to be relegated with Unibet.
As well as improving their position in the Premier League, West Brom will definitely be looking for better efforts in the cup competitions. They were dreadful in both cups last season, losing to Northampton in the early stages of the EFL Cup and crashing out of the FA Cup at the third round stage against Derby County. Improvement in this area would suggest progress, and if you think that the Baggies can win the EFL Cup, you can back them at 66/1 with 32Red, while they are available at the same price with Unibet to win the FA Cup.
Jay Rodriguez is undoubtedly the player to watch for West Brom this season. The former Southampton player has come through a tough year, in which injury and poor form has kept him out of the first team. That said, he still managed to score five goals last season and with a full pre-season under his belt and a regular place in the starting line up, he can return to his best form this season, for a team that was desperately short of goals last year. If you think Rodriguez can lead West Brom to better things, you can back him at 200/1 with Ladbrokes to finish the campaign as the Premier League top scorer.
West Brom’s main aim in the transfer market has to be to add some quality, particularly in the form of flair players and goal-scorers. Jay Rodriguez from Southampton is a part of the solution, but they will need to strengthen further up front and will also be looking to add some Premier League experience to the squad, having lost the services of Darren Fletcher this summer. Their main target at the moment, however, is Middlesbrough’s young defender, Ben Gibson, who is as short as 2/1 with SkyBet to sign for the Baggies.