West Bromich Albion are the 30th fixture for Newcastle United this campaign. A trip to The Hawthorns to play a team who have picked up 14 points in their last 8 Premier League, a total beaten only by the current top 3.
NUFC have played WBA 11 times since the birth of the Premier League – 6 wins, 2 defeats and 3 draws. However, West Brom are unbeaten v Newcastle in the their last 6 games in all competition and they have scored at least 3 goals in their last 4 matches against Newcastle.
Sunday is a chance to continue from the hard fought 3 points against Norwich and keep the European dream very much alive. With Liverpool stuck in the rut they are, NUFC need to keep squeezing points out of their remaining fixtures and this one is a good chance to do so. Only 4 teams (Stoke, Chelsea, Spurs & QPR) have picked up fewer points from their last 5 home games than WBA.
What they do…
Only Norwich concede less fouls per game than WBA currently in the Premier League – 9.2.
Only Manchester City & Arsenal have scored more from a fast break this season – 3.
West Brom have produced the 6th most goals from set plays in the top flight this season (12).
The Baggies currently manufacture just 21 crosses per game on average – only 4 teams make less.
Only Man City and Arsenal play less long balls per game than WBA currently on average (58). NUFC play 67 per game.
Only Norwich, Man Utd & Swansea have committed less fouls in the division so far so far – Newcastle have been given more cards for unprofessional fouls than any team in the Premier League (7).
The Baggies are top the list with Chelsea, Spurs and City for cards given for diving – 2.
Only Chelsea have had a higher percentage of shots from the right hand side this season – 20%.
Only City & Liverpool have a higher percentage of average possession in the opponents half than WBA – 30%.
Who’s a threat?
Youssuf Mulumbu has made more passes than anyone at WBA and has the best passing accuracy (85%). He makes most passes in his own half at WBA; it is James Morrison who makes most for them in the attacking half and the final third.
Speaking of Morrison, he has created the most chances this season at West Brom in the Premier League (55), 40 of which have come from open play. He has most goal assists from open play at the club (3) and he has completed the most successful dribbles (32) too.
Chris Brunt is another player NUFC need to keep an eye on. He was a menace when the sides met back in December at SJP, especially with his set plays. The Irishman has created more chances from set pieces than anyone at WBA (17) and he has the most assists from those situations (4) and most total assists (6).
Peter Odemwingie is another West Brom player who has caused Newcastle United problems in the past. The forward has 9 Premier League goals this season from just 19 shots on target from 56 shots in total. He has a 46% shot accuracy and the best chance conversion rate at West Brom (22%).
How to win this one
Newcastle cant expect to see too much of the ball on Sunday. Norwich had the higher of the possession at SJP last weekend and out passed NUFC for long periods and WBA will look to do exactly the same.
The 3 midfielder strategy Pardew employed didn’t work in its entirety; Norwich got down the sides far too easily. Expect to see the team revert to the much-loved 4-4-2, with HBA possibly missing out.
The stats show that West Brom don’t cross the ball too often, contrary to belief, and they rarely play the longer ball. But, what they will do, is get the ball in the box early and with quality.
Newcastle have got to be at their best when WBA are given opportunities from set plays to get the ball in their area, especially when Brunt is standing over them. More importantly, Newcastle must react quickest to the second balls in those danger areas. The graphic below shows WBA’s last 10 assisted goals in the Premier League – notice the amount of short assists in the penalty that regularly come from knock downs and loose second balls, as well as those coming from ‘medium’ knocks into the box.
On the front foot, Newcastle will continue to try and get the ball to Ba and Cisse early, but they must get up and support the frontmen with a lot more urgency than last week. Part of that must come from allowing Yohan Cabaye to play a little higher up and restrict his depth, especially if Cheik Tiote plays.
West Brom are in very good form at present, but like every team they have their weaknesses. On paper, Newcastle United have the stronger eleven and if the right Magpies turns up, 3 points could be in the bag. Not sure that will be the case though!
NUFC_Stats prediction: 2-2