Newcastle v West Brom – Premier League match preview

Game On at St James' Park

An evening kick-off at St James' Park.
Newcastle will look to get back to winning ways this evening when West Brom visit St James’ Park in a rare midweek Premier League fixture.

The importance of this fixture for NUFC cannot be underestimated. Win and we can start to look up again, maybe, and look towards a potential push towards Europe. Lose or draw and we slip further away from that Euro-chasing pack after what was a promising start.

Now I tend not to read much into previous encounters, but West Brom have a horrid record at St James’ Park. Their last league win at Newcastle came in 1977 although the memory of the last day of last season still haunts me and even though we drew, the fact that we gave away a three goal lead makes it feel like a defeat. Remember, a win would have given us 9th place and a league finish above Sunderland, which would have been excellent for our first season back in the Premier League. It wasn’t to be however…

Team news

Newcastle will be without Yohan Cabaye who sits out the game after picking up his fifth yellow card of the campaign in the 0-0 draw against Swansea at the weekend. He’ll join Dan Gosling in the sin bin as he misses his second game of a three game ban following his dismissal against Norwich.

Ryan Taylor is doubtful with an ankle complaint and Danny Guthrie misses out courtesy of his groin injury and joins Sylvain Marveaux in the treatment room for that particular ailment. The good news is that Cheik Tiote is fit, Hatem Ben Arfa is apparently “fully charged” and Mike Williamson is edging closer to a return tobolster our patched up backline.

West Brom will be without James Morrison who has been ruled out with a hamstring problem. Youssouf Mulumbu and Paul Scharner face late fitness tests. George Thorne, Gonzalo Jara and Marc-Antoine Fortune have all been recalled from loan spells by Roy Hodgson as he looks to boost squad numbers for what is a bust festive schedule.

Match facts and stats

West Brom’s last victory at St James’ Park came in 1993 when they knocked us out of the League Cup. Their last league win, as mentioned earlier, was way back in 1977 with Regis, Cunningham and Robson scoring the goals for the Baggies.

The Baggies have the third worst attack in the league. Only Wigan and QPR have scored fewer goals.

West Brom have dropped 11 points from winning positions this season which is only beaten by Blackburn who have lost 12 points after taking the lead. In contracts Newcastle have won all seven games in which they have scored in first which is the best record in the league.

Pardew’s men are unbeaten against any side in the bottom half of the table. They’ve won six and drawn two giving them the best return against the bottom of the league clubs outside of the top three.

Tactical thoughts ahead of the match

I’ve pinched this bit from Shamrock as he is making quite the name for himself with his most excellent match previews so hopefully it will provide some continuity as I step into the shoes of the preview master. Anyway, here goes…

The bit that interest me in the build up to the match was Alan Pardew stating why he left Ben Arfa out of the Swansea game and how he reckons the playmaker is “fully charged” ahead of the visit of Roy Hodgson’s men. Is that a hint that we could see the talented 24-year-old starting?

The problem that we face, well Pardew faces, is how to integrate him into the team effectively. He’s pretty insistent that he won’t be played on the wing so I guess we can rule that one out, which just leaves the number 10 role. Is a home game against West Brom the right time to drop a striker?

You see I fully believe that Leon Best and Demba Ba give us a threat up front. A genuine threat. Leon Best may not have scored for a while (remember he has been out injured aswell!) but he does link up well with Ba and creates space for the Senegal international. When Ben Arfa has played he kind of looks lost in the hole, not really helping midfield and leaving Ba isolated up front.

However there has to be a way of fitting him into the team. The boy has talent and while he’s still looking a bit rusty the only way to blow the cobwebs off is by giving him game time. I’ve thought of two ways of trying to incorporate Ben Arfa whilst retaining some semblance of an attacking threat.

– Play Ben Arfa behind Ba AND Best.

– Play Ba up to as the focal striker along with Ben Arfa and another attack-minded midfielder like Haris Vuckic, or even Gabriel Obertan, behind the in-form striker.

I’d quite like to hear any other suggestions on this one to be honest. Not that it makes any difference as I don’t think Alan Pardew will be watching looking to us for ideas, but it does make a good talking point all the same.

In terms of defence the team kind of picks itself at the moment. It will be Danny Simpson, Fabricio Coloccini, James Perch and Davide Santon again with Tim Krul in goal.

The midfield is another interesting area given that Yohan Cabaye misses out. To me it seems as though young Haris Vuckic is in line to deputise as he came on against Swansea but there is also Mehdi Abeid and, heaven forbid, Alan Smith to consider, even though considering the latter of the trio is like considering which testicle you would prefer to keep, or lose.

West Brom won’t settle for doing what Swansea did. They won’t camp in their own box with nine men behind the ball and will give it a bit of a go which will hopefully open the game up a bit and allow our quality to shine through.

Final thought

It wont be an easy game, but I’ve no doubt that the players will want to send the home fans away for Christmas with a win under their belt. I’ve seen parts of all the last five games to suggest that we’ll get back to winning ways at some point and I sincerely hope that is tonight.

A win would give us 30 points by Christmas which is better than most had hoped for I bet if people answer honestly. It’s then setup for a European charge in 2012 and with a bit of strengthening we could acquire a top six position. Will we strengthen? That is the question….

Howay the lads!

Date: Wednesday, 21st December, 2011

Kick-off: 7:45pm

Venue: St James’ Park

52 thoughts on “Newcastle v West Brom – Premier League match preview

  1. Waiting for my flight en route to Newcastle from ireland! First game for over a year and I’m massively pumped. Will the toon be buzzing tonight? Just can’t wait to get back inside a packed st.james park! Get benny and vuckic on the pitch…would be great to see em in the flesh! Blogs goin great toonsy, full-time reader…sporadic commenter but it’s my go to toon site! Keep up the good work


  2. Howay the LADS!!!!!

    Cold and wet tonight lads… i’ll have to put me beer jacket on! πŸ˜†

    Can’t get too smashed though… driving at 5 in the morning πŸ‘Ώ

    you can’t beat a bit of boobs, booze and footy on a wednesday night 😈


  3. Turn the corner tonight , 1 nill toon or 5 nill toon can’t decide looking 4ward to seeing vuctic benny santon play , fancy colo for a goal he was very close on sat.
    Howay the lads.


  4. I thought this game was at the Hawthorns for some reason…… πŸ™„ …..Thought we’d get a point due to been away from home but with us been at home I think we will go looking for the win and for that reason I think we will win! Buddy very jealous wish I was waiting on a flight to Newcastle myself instead of been stuck in work πŸ™


  5. Meanwhile, Palace boss Dougie Freedman has taunted Newcastle over their interest in Zaha, claiming they are not a big enough club to lure the England Under-19 forward.

    He said: ‘Wilfried is better than a Newcastle. I know the chairman won’t accept four, five or six million pounds and that rules out a lot of clubs.

    ‘If you’re talking eight, nine or 10 then who is going to pay that? That is the top five or six in the Premier League.’

    Is he trying to say our chairman is tight and we wont spend!! cheeky bugger… Wolfie…send him an email!! πŸ˜†


  6. @mark

    He’s only being realistic. πŸ˜›

    Connor Wickham went for Β£8m. We baulked at that.

    The worst part of his interview was when he referred to Sunderland as bigger spenders and in the top 7 bracket of big clubs!


  7. Reading in the Chron yesterday comments like why wasn’t Santon brought in earlier or “Why is Ben Arfa not playing”, and people starting to have a go at Pardew again………… I just think there’s got to be more to this manager lark than how it appears in a computer game!


  8. “Gabriel Obertan was booed off when he was replaced last Saturday in the game against Swansea.”

    who are these fans that boo their own players!?!? shame on them. I hate the thought of booing a new player, or any player. Fair enuf criticize with your pals but there can’t be anything more pointless for the toon then booing your own player. Ita not panto or BB…I’d love to have a big kenny everett hand and slap the booers πŸ˜€


  9. Being a bit of an old git I can remember the days when we didn’t have socila networking sites or even weblogs for people to vent their spleens, and I can remember a player called Tommy Gibb who had a few cracking seasons at the club, but then lost form. The very same fans who had been singing his praises began to get on his back, resulting in an even more severe dip in form. My last memory of Tommy Gibb is standing in the popular side as he ran past ‘V’ signing to the fans


  10. @troy lol Wigan probs spend more than us πŸ˜₯

    We shall see, Wolfie has promised a good window ahead 😯

    Ive checked out the timetable for the bus, seems like its heading my way. I’ll probably be a late booker πŸ˜€


  11. @mark

    If a player does not put the effort in and is clearly not working for the cause, then it’s excusable to boo a player.

    No matter how bad a player is, as long as he is trying and giving everything then there is no excuse.

    In Obertans case, he tries, gives everything and still contributes to the teams performance. IMO he is no worse than Jonas. Both not good enough to take us to the next level but are grafters and definitely don’t deserve booing.


  12. @JoeSoap

    exactly m8, it doesnt achieve anything but create pressure for that player.

    I think it embarrassing too, a grown bloke shouting booo πŸ˜† its very childish and make u look like a right thicko. The only ppl that deserve to be booed are Gary glitter and Wolf off the gladiators πŸ˜†


  13. “If a player does not put the effort in and is clearly not working for the cause, then it’s excusable to boo a player. “………….really?….In what psycho-analysis managerial manual did you read that motivational gem Troy?


  14. @troy

    well I think to boo any player is ridiculous. I haven’t seen many players that don’t ‘put an effort’ in. Its either he incapable of putting an effort in or he’s generally shit. If thats the case he wont last long anyway as a decent manager will remove him. Either way booing from your own fans isnt going to solve the ‘effort’ problem. If he has no ‘effort’, as u say in front of 52k fans do u think a few booing will change his manner? so why bother.

    I cant beleive your a booer troy, thud will be disapointed πŸ˜€


  15. I cannit underst and the critisism of Obertan. I think he works hard. consistantly beats players and isn’t afraid to have a crack at goal. His last ball can sometimes be lacking, but I can remember the same being true of Jonas until the second half of last season. I say ‘give him a chance’ and I remain an Obertan fan.


  16. Mark

    I’m clearly too young to know what a kenny everett hand is.

    I remember the ‘you’ve been tangoed’ hand though.

    I’m totally up for this game tonight, I kind of like mid week games sometimes.. maybe it’s just so I have an excuse to go to the pub on a school night.

    I’ve even managed to talk wor lass into given me a lift… AND PICKING ME UP… I blatently wear the trousers πŸ˜† πŸ˜† πŸ˜†


  17. Actually you can still integrate ben arfa with 2 strikers up front. πŸ˜‰

    Just use a 4-4-2 diamond formation. But the bad point of this formation is that we might not be having much possession in middle.


  18. been reading a lot about BA on these blogs lately, and the problem I see, is his lack of defensive qualities (dont shout). Until the manager is 100% satisfied the back 4 can look after themselves, he will want to play Tiote AND Cabaye in front of them, whilst playing with 2 wide players.


  19. @joesoap

    I learnt the art of booing from watching my cousin Keith Chegwin starring in Panto.

    He always played the bad guy and it took many years to master the art of booing.

    You may think every boo is the same but to the trained ear there are subtle differences.

    Comeback to me when you have a boo qualification which grants you permission to boo with authority. πŸ˜›


  20. Pards will set things up ok, and to be honest we do need an opportunity to explore the huge number of ‘spare’ midfielders in the squad. I expect we’ll see what amounts to a 4-1-3-2 with Vukic and Benny, or a 4-4-2 with Benny starting and Vukic on if he doesn’t fire.

    As for booing: don’t do it. Ever. It can only harm your own cause.

    And Troy: yes, the scum are bigger spenders than us, which makes their position compared to us even more humiliating for them. Sweet. :mrgreen:


  21. πŸ˜‰ I’m also old enough to remember your avatar, and there was only two blokes who got booed more than him…one was Mick McManus and the other was Jacky ‘TV’ Pallo!!


  22. I like 4-1-3-2 Whumpie, but it makes for a narrower setup. Don’t think we’ve got the fullbacks in place to compensate.


  23. Toonsy@21

    My sentiments exactly!

    sadly on my work computer i can’t get youtube so i’ll have to wait until I’m home.

    And then i’ll probably forget. πŸ˜†


  24. The last Panto I went to my cousin Cheggers was playing theΒ lead actor in the local pantomime of Aladin and he was anally raped by the gay genie Michael Barrymore on stage! Β ….To be fair the audience did try to warn him.

    Boooo 😯


  25. convincing “bad guy”.

    He once remarked: “The biggest draws in the game are the villains – I learnt that at an early age. I worked on it until I knew how to get people annoyed.”

    Part of this persona was his line in backchat. One night a woman at ringside shouted: “You’re getting big-headed, Pallo.” He shouted back: “If my head was in your mouth it would rattle.”

    Another woman was told: “Go and live in India, darling – you’d be sacred over there.”

    Pallo was best known for his “feud” with Mick McManus, otherwise known as “the Dulwich Destroyer”, who later became an antiques dealer. Mark “Rollerball” Rocco, Kendo Nagasaki and Big Daddy also proved worthy opponents in the ring.

    Female fans (or “ring rats”) would not leave Pallo alone. “Timid housewives and elderly ladies with mauve rinses are usually the worst,” he once observed. “If they had their way with three bits of my anatomy I’d have been able to get a job in a Turkish harem.” They plunged hatpins into his bottom; stubbed out cigarettes on his body; and swung their handbags – sometimes loaded with jars of cold cream – at his head.


  26. it’s pretty simple. No funky formation changes necessary.

    Vuckic comes in for Cabaye as the only change to a team that played pretty well on Sat.
    Ben Arfa gets his chance off the bench, replacing Best some time in the 2nd half (unless WBA prove to be particularly susceptible to direct balls aimed at big fellas, like Swansea were…. in that case we’ll be seeing more of Shola)


  27. I reckon we’ll keep a clean sheet tonight. WBA have the 3rd worst goal talley this season and with colo organising our defense and tiote guarding them they’ll find it too hard to break through.

    My advice tonight to Pardew (I know your reading!) is get HBA on sitting behind Ba and Best with Guti on the left but able to drift into the middle to cover the space that Cabaye has left due to his unfortunate absence.

    This will be very attacking minded (although lopsided) but the delivery from best and HBA to Ba will see him get his 3rd hat-trick this season and then we can take HBA off, stick Abeid on and defend for the rest of the game.

    Prediction? 4-0 to the toon.. we haven’t slaughtered anyone this season so we’re due one also we haven’t scored at home since Raylor’s spectacular half volley (almost 2 month!) so we’re due a few goals

    C’mon guys!!! (For all ther rah’s reading this)
    Howay the Lads!!! For everyone else :mrgreen:


  28. Can’t wait for tonight’s game. Can’t beat a freezing night watching Newcastle!

    I think if Ben Arfa is too play we’ll need Vuckic over Abeid in midfield so he can get forward and give us more options going forward but I agree with Toonsy, Ba and Best are the most threatening!


  29. Going for a 1 – 1 tonight.
    We have struggled in the recent past to beat WBA either at home or away.
    My arse will be twiching even if we go 3 up πŸ˜‰


  30. We are definitely overdue dishing out a proper tonking, and tonight has a lot of the ingredients, albeit without a couple of key players. But against WBA hopefully we can get away with some youth and sheer cockiness over experience; Abeid, Vukic, Sammy and co should all get more space than they would against a CL side (or Europa if your team starts with ‘Manc’ πŸ˜† )


  31. Regarding Obertan and Jonas, yes they have been misfiring but i think this down to us constantly playing 4 midfielders versus 5, and in any case, look at Gareth Bale, he flopped at Spurs and was loaned out before he hit the form he is in today.
    Obertan has pace and just needs the confidence to apply the final touch but he wont get that with sections of the crowd on his back, he deserves more backing, he is trying his hardest after all.


  32. @TGS

    Those were the days. There was that much room in the gallowgate end, me and my mate used to take a ball along and play keepy ups to keep us entertained. πŸ˜›


  33. @TGS

    I haven’t seen you on here for a while?

    You been on and I’ve just missed you?

    Or have you been away?


  34. @TGS

    I remember!! It was against Shrewsbury! Richard Dinnis asked you to warm up with 10 mins to go but by the time you undid your White trench coat and 14 hole doc Marts the ref had blown the final whistle!! πŸ˜›


  35. I don’t think Oba and Jonas have been that bad, tbh. The days when you had wingers pinging in dozens of perfect crosses are gone; the game now is too frenetic and wingers are closed down far more efficiently.

    The best you can hope for now is a winger who draws defenders, beats them and gets the ball into the space that’s created. A few times in a game you would hope they can put a ball to the feet or head of a striker or AM. Our wingers all do that, and there are precious few in the world who do more.


  36. @whumpie

    I tend to disagree in as far as Jonas will be lucky if he has passed his man and floated a cross in the danger area more than half a dozen times (being generous) all season.

    Do you disagree? If not, is that good enough?


  37. I still think having Ba and Best up front together, with Arfa ahead of a deeper lying Tiote would be our best midfield for this match. That way we can bring Shola for either striker or Vuckic for Arfa/either striker depending on who’s tired/injured etc etc.

    My guess is we won’t though, we’ll simply drop Best and throw in another midfielder, and it better not be Smith.


  38. @newkie

    I don’t believe Barfa has the workrate or fitness yet to play midfield.

    You’ve got to have a big engine and at the moment he’s firing on 2 cylinders.


  39. Troy-You may be right, but I do think he could manage 70 minutes of it. I think two strikers will allow him to truly find space on the field between broms midfield/defence and with that space we can direct our two wingers who will hopefully do most of the running to get a pass into Barfa rather than trying to cross onto the heads of Ba/Best.


  40. Great preview Toonsy, mine are just a follow on from yours anyway – so it’s all the same! As for the Benny thing, I have been personally keen to see a 4-4-2 diamond formation for a while now. Wont happen tonight as Cabaye is out, but would like to see him out on the right, Tiote holding the fort and Benny given licence to roam behind the 2 forwards. Cabaye can cross and drift inside when required. Reckon it would be lethal, but like you said – Pardew does not need us to chose his formations for him! (Wish he would give it a go for this one though) πŸ˜†

    Prediction for tonight – 2-1 to Toon. Come on!


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