by Tom Allen
Fingers were scorched last weekend when West Brom folded at Fulham but they
should get back on track on Saturday at The Hawthorns with a victory.
Under new boss Steve Clarke the Baggies had started the season in terrific
form, picking up seven points from a tricky opening trio of matches as a result
of three excellent performances.
Wins over Everton and Liverpool, as well as a well-earned point at White Hart
Lane, had West Brom fans eyeing the Premier League summit before last weekend's
trip to Craven Cottage but they were second-best to Fulham throughout and quite
rightly left with nothing.
So strong at home, there was no disgrace in being beaten by Martin Jol's
Dimitar Barbatov-inspired side and plenty of visitors will fail to add to their
points tally in west London this season.
West Brom entertain a Reading side this weekend that are yet to win on their
return to the top flight under manager Brian McDermott and there were a number
of worrying signs in defeat last time out.
A 3-1 loss to Tottenham in front of their own fans could have been
significantly worse, Reading were awful defensively, and on a strict form line
through Andre Villas-Boas' men the Royals have it all to do in the West
The Berkshire club had shown plenty of spirit in a 4-2 defeat at Chelsea
prior to that but all they have for their efforts this term is a solitary
opening draw with Stoke and it's now eight goals conceded in just three Premier
The newcomers have found life tough in the English top flight upon their
return, Southampton have lost all four of their opening fixtures, and it is time
to take advantage by once again opposing the new boys.
There is no doubt West Brom would be much closer to the 8/13 mark had they
not been beaten last time out but seven days to get over that disappointment is
plenty enough and Clarke is sure to have them raring to go.
At a standout 17/20 with William Hill, or 5/6 with
Paddy Power, the Baggies rate as this weekend's best bet and maximum
points could well see them end the latest round of fixtures in the top four.
3pts Back West Brom (vs. Reading) @ 17/20 (William