Bristol City v West Brom: Baggies uncertain to seize second chance
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Bristol CityThe ten days between the initial tie at The Hawthorns and this replay have been chaotic for Bristol City, who went from being seconds away from beating a Premier League side on the road to losing at home to Preston, resulting in the rather harsh sacking of League One-winning boss Steve Cotterill.As if that sequence wasn’t dramatic enough, they followed up with a 1-0 victory over Championship leaders Middlesbrough under the caretaker guidance of John Pemberton and Wade Elliott. To put the magnitude of that result into perspective, Boro had earned 25 points from the last available 27, not conceding once during that nine-game run.Chairman Keith Dawe cited the ambition to become a Premier League club as justification for culling Cotterill and the next manager market certainly reflects that, with top-flight alumni such as Nigel Pearson, Garry Monk and David Moyes among those in the betting.West BromLike their hosts, West Brom experienced an on-pitch low and an on-pitch high since rescuing a replay in the first take of this FA Cup third-round clash, although theirs occurred in the opposite order.In the midweek batch of Premier League fixtures, they rallied from behind twice away to champions Chelsea for a 2-2 draw, with the second leveller arriving in the closing five minutes. It clearly wasn’t a sign of weekend success to come though as they followed it with a 3-0 flop at Southampton.
Tony Pulis reached the final of this competition with Stoke in 2011 and steered the Baggies to the quarter-finals last year within months of his West Brom appointment. For a repeat to be possible, he will have to plot a path through without James Morrison and seemingly Darren Fletcher too due to injury.
The Opta stats suggest that an upset shouldn’t be possible, with Bristol City being eliminated in their last five FA Cup ties against teams from higher divisions and West Brom progressing in their most recent three against opponents from lower down the footballing food chain.
However, it very nearly did happen in the Black Country and that is one of several reasons to suspect that the visitors can’t be relied upon even at the attractive price of 2.20.
Another is that Pulis’ men are winless in six of their travels, suffering five defeats in nine. It isn’t just the Premier League’s elite causing them hassle either as Norwich and Southampton (both 3-0), Crystal Palace and Swansea have all contributed to that loss count.
By contrast, for all their struggles, the Robins have only endured one reverse in four and three in ten in front of their fans since the start of October. They have also won three and drawn one of their past five at Ashton Gate in the FA Cup.
Both Teams to Score
Despite paying out in style when this pair drew 2-2 a week and a half ago, both teams to score is available to back at the pretty handsome odds of 1.92.
West Brom have been guilty of a few more away zeroes in the Premier League than their manager will deem acceptable this season, but those problems rarely follow them into the FA Cup, in which Opta note they have netted on 16 of their last 17 trips beyond their borders.
Yet they are clean sheet-less in six away matches now, leaking 11 times, and face a squad who have defied a relegation-paying Championship position of 22nd to strike in nine of their previous ten home encounters.