Soccer tips: Barnsley vs West Brom - Valerien Ismael to enjoy winning return to Oakwell

After leading Barnsley to the Championship play-offs last season, Valerien Ismael returns to Oakwell on Friday night with new side West Brom, who are looking to close the gap on Bournemouth in second.

Valerien Ismael worked wonders last season to get Barnsley into the play-offs. They eventually lost out to Swansea City over two legs but the scale of the job he did can be seen by these club's respective positions this season. While the Baggies are third under the 46-year-old, the Tykes look relegation certainties having won just two of their 22 games.

Ismael's successor Markus Schopp departed Oakwell in November and the Tykes are winless in five under new boss Poya Asbaghi.

Best bets for Barnsley vs West Brom

West Brom to win and BTTS - 7/2

West Brom to score in both halves - 19/10

Callum Robinson to score anytime - 13/8

Barnsley will be searching for their first win under Asbaghi on Friday night, as well as their first win in six. Their last victory came against the only side below them, Derby County, who they beat 2-1 on November 3.

And, it looks like they might have to do it without Cauley Woodrow, who is set to miss out with a hip injury.

Cauley Woodrow, Barnsley, Championship

There is some positive news when it comes to their recent record against the Baggies, however. West Brom have failed to beat Barnsley in their last five, with their last victory coming back in 2007.

Much more was expected of West Brom this season. Only 30 goals scored, which is fewer than Luton in 12th, tells its own story. However, with Barnsley's defence ranking joint-third worst in the Championship, they won't get many better chances to hit the goal trail.

Despite failing to win under Asbaghi, Barnsley have scored in three of the five games, including away at Fulham.

Therefore, my headline tip is for West Brom to win and both teams to score, which - courtesy of Planet Sport Bet - has been boosted to 7/2 (was 3/1).

Last 10 head-to-head record

West Brom wins: 3

Draws: 4

Barnsley wins: 3

West Brom goals: 21

Barnsley goals: 14

Tykes in turmoil

Poya Asbaghi, Barnsley manager, Championship

With just one win since the opening day of the season, Barnsley are suffering one heck of a hangover from Ismael's summer departure.

Markus Schopp was dismissed in November, but life hasn't become any easier under Asbaghi and, eight points from safety, they're already staring relegation in the face.

A visit from their former manager may spur a little wave of motivation through the squad, but their defence has been far too leaky this season, with their 34 goals conceded only topped by Peterborough and Cardiff City.

That paves the way for the likes of Karlan Grant and Callum Robinson to thrive. And, with goals likely, West Brom to score in both halves is a bet that catches the eye at 19/10.

It landed in both of Barnsley's games against the top two - 4-1 to Fulham and 3-0 to Bournemouth.

A makeshift back line

Kyle Bartley, West Brom

Barnsley can derive some optimism from West Brom's current defensive woes.

The Baggies have had to make do at the back, fielding Jake Livermore and Adam Reach in a back three either side of Kyle Bartley.

That's because Cedric Kipre, Semi Ajayi, Matt Clarke and Conor Townsend were all absent for their win over Reading after testing positive for COVID-19.

It's unclear whether any or all of them will return for Friday's meeting but it is not ideal preparation either way.

Goalscorer bets for Barnsley vs West Brom

Callum Robinson, West Brom, Championship

Republic of Ireland international Callum Robinson started the season superbly for the Baggies, scoring three goals in August.

But, after scoring in the 4-0 win over Sheffield United on August 18, Robinson had to wait until last Saturday to net his fourth of the campaign.

Now with his drought over, he'll hope to kick on and build up some momentum. Against a side facing relegation he'll fancy his chances of finding the net, and at 13/8, Robinson to score anytime presents good value.

As for Barnsley, Aaron Leya Iseka can step up in the absence of Woodrow. The Belgian forward ranks second for goals at Barnsley with three, but boasts the best minutes-to-goals ratio.

The 24-year-old will be the focal point of Barnsley's attack, and with plenty of pace in behind, he can trouble West Brom's makeshift defence.

Leya Iseka to score anytime is priced at 10/3 with Planet Sport Bet.

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