The first match of 2014 will see us travel to the Hawthorns to take on West Bromwich Albion.
The managerless Baggies are just two points above the relegation zone and will want to see that gap widen rather quickly whilst United will want to prove that the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal was a slip up and return to winning ways at the first attempt.
These are the kind of games we need to get something from if we are serious about challenging for Europe. Indeed these are the kinds of games we won in the season where we finished fifth. Away days are never easy though and we must turn up and get the job done and even though that sounds incredibly cliche it is true.
Chris Brunt may feature after recovering from a calf injury and Shane Long may return after sitting out the previous two games. Nicolas Anelka is likely to retain his place despite being under investigation following his goal celebration last weekend but Victor Anichebe is doubtful with a groin injury.
Jonas Gutierrez and Ryan Taylor are the only players missing for Alan Pardew who has the luxury of having all of his big-hitters at his disposal.
Last season we drew at the Hawthorns with Yoan Gouffran scoring our goal in a 1-1 draw. It’s only one game, but that draw kind of symbolises the record between the two sides which is dead even as things stand.
Of 118 matches both sides have won on 43 occasions with 32 matches ending in a draw. At West Brom they have been stronger winning 26 compared to 13 victories for United with 19 draws adding up to 58 games played at the Hawthorns.
Match stats and facts…
West Brom picked up the second lowest amount of points per game in 2013 with 0.92. Only Sunderland picked up less at 0.84 points per game. Maybe Steve Clarke isn’t as super duper as some NUFC fans think he is?
West Brom have failed to win in the last nine league games. And they’ve kept only four clean sheets this season – the second lowest in the division.
Newcastle have more away wins than four of the top five clubs – Manchester City, Chelsea, Everton and Liverpool.
There isn’t much I can add to it. We can win it, we know we can, but we also know we’re equally liable to put in a stinker just as we did at Swansea. Yet again it’s how we perform on the day and although we’ve been more consistent this term I still have concerns.
I always view West Brom as some form of bogey for us. I’ve no idea why as our results against them aren’t too bad by all accounts. Maybe that’s my problem? I just can’t see which way this will go despite the supposed gulf between the teams that the league table suggests.
Howay the lads!
Date: Wednesday, 1st January, 2014
Venue: The Hawthorns