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Coventry v West Brom
The game of football has clearly evolved a lot over time. From the introduction of crossbars on goal frames to the pass-back rule, and hundreds of tactical evolutions, but if you want to win football games, it still helps to have the best footballers on the field.
Viktor Gyokeres, now playing Champions League football for Sporting, and Gustavo Hamer, now impressing in the Premier League for Sheffield United, were key components of Coventry’s excellent season in 2022/23. That season culminated in a play-off final defeat to Luton Town, and it is sometimes the case that clubs struggle with the mental impact of getting so close and then going again the following season.
They obviously received significant fees in return for the players, but spending that money on the right players to improve performance isn’t always straightforward. Coventry brought in the likes of Ellis Simms, Haji Wright, Milan van Ewijk, Bobby Thomas, Luis Binks, and others to try and build their entire squad. This may well work in the long term, but results have been poor so far in 2023/24, and the consistency that Mark Robins has provided for years is in danger of coming under scrutiny.
With how tight the league table is at the moment in the Championship, there is no need to panic for either side. West Brom failed to make the play-offs last season, primarily because of a poor start under Steve Bruce. Carlos Corberan’s points record overall has been worthy of being in the play-off picture, yet they have achieved this without managing to be particularly convincing.
The match has all the hallmarks of a big game, and being on a Monday night gives it that extra bit of unusual excitement and frisson.
Coventry v West Brom Cheat Sheet
This Cheat Sheet and Preview was created using predicted lineups.
Now, for my breakdown and preview with recommended bets…
🔵 Coventry stats: Can the returning O’Hare stitch Coventry together?
Callum O’Hare returned to the pitch as a substitute in Coventry’s defeat to Rotherham last week, serving as a timely reminder of a player who was considered Coventry’s best until his serious injury problems.
While it would be unfair to expect the playmaker to come back and instantly improve things, given his recent injury history, it is a beacon of hope for the club. Medical methods and recovery are such that, in most rehab periods, a player is able to come back physically as strong, or in some cases, stronger, than when they left. O’Hare is a regular dribbler of the ball and will hope that he can retain the movement that made him so successful.
His availability provides Robins with many more options. The 3-4-1-2 formation that has been effective until recently can gain a new lease of life with O’Hare at #10, or he can use O’Hare in tandem with perhaps Palmer or Ayari in a 3-4-2-1 shape. Ellis Simms continues to struggle at the moment, and Haji Wright hasn’t been consistent either.
If nothing else, the return of O’Hare should lift the supporters and improve the mood in the dressing room and in the stands. Let us see what impact he is able to have on the pitch again now.
🐦 West Brom stats: Can Baggies sustain a play-off push?
The only thing that matters at the end of a 46-game season is how many points the team can gather. Usually, it will take a mid-70 point total to get into the play-offs, and Carlos Corberan is running at pretty much exactly that level. The Spaniard has managed West Brom for 47 matches now, one more than a full Championship season, and has earned 76 points.
Despite the positives, there has yet to be an utterly convincing run of form this season that would cement West Brom as a team that deserves to be treated as a true promotion contender. With the perceived financial problems upstairs in the club, and, therefore, the lack of investment in the playing squad, it would still be an excellent achievement for Corberan to get West Brom into the play-offs.
Usually, though, alongside the points gathering, comes some evidence of good performance. The xG creation is really poor for West Brom, currently ranking 19th with 15.1 xG in 13 matches. This sits alongside shots on target, where West Brom is 18th, and big chances created, where the Baggies are 13th. If there is no improvement in these numbers, then it is surely impossible for West Brom to remain in contention near the top of the league.
There are a number of attacking players to come back soon for West Brom, and that may be a contributing factor to what is happening on the pitch, but, at some stage, West Brom’s attacking numbers, especially, have to improve.
🎯 Coventry offensive stats: Corners key for Cov
There are multiple reasons for Coventry to be motivated to put in a big performance here. Their fans need some convincing that they are on the right track, and there are some players who really need to step up.
Coventry already average more corners at home than their opponents, 6 vs. 5 per match. West Brom averages slightly more than their opponents away from home; the difference and more is made up from the second half against Birmingham last time out, where they got 8 corners in that half.
In their last three home matches, Coventry has had 8, 7, and 10 corners awarded. A repeat of figures like that should see this bet land. Not to mention that they kept Norwich to 0 corners in their last home match.
Prediction: Coventry corner match bet @ 1.73
Prediction: Over 5.5 Coventry corners @ 1.95
🎯 West Brom offensive stats: Furlong’s value in shots department
If Darnell Furlong plays at right wing-back then he seems to be value for a shot here. He provides the attacking impetus from the right, even though Matt Phillips on the other side is more of a forward player, Furlong often benefits from sneaking in attacking the box from the other side.
His last three away matches have seen Furlong take 2, 1, and 1 shot, all of which were on target.
Prediction: Darnell Furlong to have 1+ shot @ 1.61
Prediction: Darnell Furlong to have 1+ shot on target @ 3.25
🛑 Coventry defensive stats: Sheaf fouls look likely
Ben Sheaf is likely to be the central midfielder for Coventry who will play the full 90 minutes. If he is paired with a potentially more attacking option as well, there will be more onus on Sheaf to cover any breaks through the middle.
He is averaging over a foul per 90 minutes over the last 30 Coventry matches and has had matches this season where he managed 4 and 3 fouls. Even though Coventry committed only six fouls against Rotherham, Sheaf was one of them.
Okay Yokuslu and Alex Mowatt are not shrinking violets in the midfield, and Sheaf will have to get involved to give Coventry a good platform to play.
Prediction: Ben Sheaf to commit 1+ foul @ 1.40
Prediction: Ben Sheaf to commit 2+ fouls @ 2.87
🛑 West Brom defensive stats: Palmer well protected by Baggies’ defence
What we learned about Corberan in his success with Huddersfield is that he appears to be adept at finding a way to win games and being well-organized. West Brom has conceded only 13.9 xG in 13 matches, the 4th best record in the league. They certainly give Alex Palmer in goal very little to do; indeed, West Brom averages the fewest number of saves per match at 1.8. Coventry are in serious need of a result, but with these metrics, the chance of Palmer having an easy day at the office is in his favour.
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* I recommend waiting for confirmed team line-ups before placing any bets.
* All odds displayed correct at the time of publishing.
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