West Brom (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

After Saturday’s horror show at home to Watford, this game couldn’t come quick enough to right the wrongs of a truly awful weekend.
 
It was without doubt our worst home performance under Rafa Benitez’s reign, and we must be so much better if we are to get the result we badly need against the Baggies tonight.
 
Pulis is gone and Pardew looks to be coming in, however West Brom look said to be lead by Gary Megson; who helped them to an impressive 1-1 draw at Spurs on Saturday. They seem to have been given an untimely lift from Pulis’ departure, and that showed over the weekend.
 
I’m hoping to see a real response from us here, however. Saturday’s display was unacceptable on so many levels and I’d like to think we’ll be looking to put that right here.
 
I expect energy levels to be upped, some much needed changes to the side and Rafa to revert back to his trusted 4-2-3-1 system – a set up that wasn’t pretty, but made us far more tough to beat.
 
Quite alarmingly, Saturday’s side couldn’t have looked less like a Benitez team if it tried – that needs to change tonight. 
 
 

The Team

After Saturday’s collective effort (or lack of it), no ones place in the side should be safe, but here’s how I see us lining up.

Elliot has looked slow and lacklustre over the past two games, but I’m not convinced Rafa will change that department quite to easily. Fans are probbaly seeing why Rafa wanted a new goalkeeper over the summer, mind.

Yedlin must do much better but will almost certainly keep his place, as will Lejeune and Clark at centre-back – however one of those would almost certainly be dropped if Lascelles had been fit enough to return for this one.

Manquillo is another example, with Dummett another who sees this game come a little too soon for him, however I’d be inclined to bring  Mbemba back in at left-back? West Brom are a big side and the tricky Matty Phillips is likely to be running at us from that side. With those two in mind, Mbemba looks well suited to this one, being a better athlete than Manquillo and much better in the air.



Merino should start this one after coming on as a sub on Saturday. His return could be massive – especially if in place of the ineffective Mo Diame, who did little once again on Saturday to suggest Rafa should call him up to the first-team anytime soon.

Hayden also returns from suspension. Whilst Shelvey and Merino are without doubt our most talented central midfielders, I wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa opted for Merino and Hayden in a bid to be much more energetic, combative and competitive than the laboured Shelvey and Diame were on Saturday?

Ritchie needs a much better game tonight. He was non existent at both ends for most of Saturday’s defeat, leaving Yedlin particularly exposed down our right.

Hopefully Murphy can continue to show promise on the other side, with the England U-21 winger being the only player in black and white who could come away from Watford with any sort of credit. He had a go, was the only player looking to make things happen and could be key on the counter with Atsu (our usual out ball away from home) ruled out once again.

Ahead of that lot, there’s a real case for Rafa to bring Perez back into the fold. In the 856 minutes he’s has played this season we’ve conceded 9 goals. One every 95 minutes. In the 314 minutes we’ve played without him we’ve conceded 8. One every 39 minutes.

Whether it’s work rate, tactical awareness, closing down or positioning, he seems to make us harder to break down and helps us press from the front. Rafa will be looking to get us back to our old resilient and disciplined self and with that in mind, I think Ayoze will be recalled.

Up top, Joselu should be out of the equation in this one for me. His limitations in front of goal have been pretty clear from the word go, but even the things Rafa has often said he did well (work rate, hold up play, aerial strength) have completely dissapeared in recent weeks. In the past, there was a slight argument for him starting, but I honestly can’t see a valid one right now.

That leaves Mitrovic and Gayle. Whilst I’d like to see the former given his chance, I think Gayle might get the nod. He was very quiet on Saturday, but did a good job at Old Trafford in our last away outing. He took his goal well and showed signs of the old Gayle as he buzzed about up top.

One thing I would say – West Brom are a big, physical side, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Rafa did end up opting for a big man up top to help cope with their clear threat from set pieces.

 

The Opposition

As previously mentioned, I think Matty Phillips is a player who, on his day, could cause us real problems – especially if he’s up against Manquillo. He’s direct, quick and pretty powerful; three traits I think Chancel Mbemba could cope with better than the aforementioned Spanird.

For what their central midfield lacks in flair, it makes up for in competitiveness, strength and know-how. The likes of Gareth Barry and Grzegorz Krychowiak are seasoned campaigners, whilst Jake Livermore is another ‘unit’ in midfield. With this in mind, might we see Rafa opt for Hayden and Merino?

Up top, Salomon Rondon is a powerhouse and no slouch either so he’ll be a real handful. The sort of physical threat that makes me wish Lascelles was fit. Next to him could be Jay Rodriguez. He’s not known for his physicality, but someone known to have a decent strike on him. We can’t give him space.

They have real height in the side, so, as highlighted earlier, we’ll need to be strong in the air and do our best to compete with them on that front. A good six or seven of their starting 11 are 6ft plus and the likes of Jonny Evans, Gareth McCauley and Ahmed Hegazy will be thrive from set pieces. Cheap free kicks will be important to avoid.

For an inside look into the opposition, see this week’s edition of ‘The Opposition Opinion’ where we’ve gained the thoughts of a Baggies fan we’ve been speaking to this week.

 

Form

Newcastle – 14th (14 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 1 / Drawn: 0 / Lost: 4

West Brom – 17th –(10 pts) – Last 5 in the league /  Won: 0  / Drawn: 2 / Lost: 3

Team News

Isaac Hayden is back from suspension for this one after picking up his 5th yellow of the season at Old Trafford. Mikel Merino could start after coming off from the bench against Watford on Saturday.

 Benitez has confirmed Jamaal Lascelles (ankle) and Christian Atsu (thigh) and Paul Dummett (hamstring) will miss out once again.

West Brom will hand a late fitness test to Chris Brunt after he missed the 1-1 draw at Tottenham with a calf problem.

Nacer Chadli (hip) and James Morrison (Achilles) will miss out once again, with this game coming too soon for the midfield pair.

 

Predicted Line-ups

Newcastle United XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lejeune, Clark, Manquillo – Merino, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Murphy – Gayle

West Brom XI – (4-4-2): Foster – Nyom, Evans, Hegazy, Gibbs – Phillips, Barry, Livermore, Field – Rodriguez, Rondon.

 

Head-to-Heads

A real mixed bag in recent meetings. We’ve won 2, drawn 1 and lost 2 of our last five encounters as you can see above, however we’ve lost two of our last 3 at The Hawthorns. Time to even that up tonight..

Match Prediction

A big big game for both clubs, this. It goes without saying we’ll need to be considerably better than we were on Saturday to get a result here.

West Brom looked in a real state a week or so ago, however they seemed to have had a cloud lifted from them now Pulis is gone, and they’ll be looking to build on Sunday’s promising 1-1 draw at Spurs – with one eye also on impressing potential new boss Alan Pardew.

The above doesn’t make tonight’s game any easier unfortunately, and while I believe we’ll be much better and show much more grit and discipline, I fancy this one to be a draw.

It’s pretty essential we don’t lose to stop the rot, so I expect to see a much more defensive minded and combative looking NUFC side.

Prediction: West Brom 1-1 Newcastle 

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at [email protected] & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Born in Gateshead, Olly was a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

57 thoughts on “West Brom (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. I’d like to see Mbemba in for Manq, Hayden for Shelvey, Merino for Diame, Perez for Joselu and possibly Mitro for Gayle, Darlow for Elliott. Only six changes!

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  2. Thanks Olly , good write up. Really hope we can get something from tonight and 3 weeks ago I would not of been worried at all. But I just knew they would dump Pulis before facing us, it always seems to happen that way for us. Cannot come away with nowt tonight, it’s unthinkable, we will likely get nothing from the 3 games after this one and even West Ham could be a different proposition to the last time we faced them.

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  3. Yeah my central midfield would be Hayden and Merino too.
    I’m am/was a big fan of Shelvey, but he seems to have slipped back into being that one trick pony. He came back into the team working hard and wanting to make amends for his stupid sending off. But that seems to have worn off now, and he’s back to kicking people and looking for the Hollywood pass.
    For me Hayden and Merino are both better midfielders because they are more complete players.

    I think Yedlin and Manq need to be more disciplined as full backs and keep Ritchie and Murphy as the threat out wide. I’m not saying they shouldn’t get forward at all, but Yedlin in particular seems to be putting attack ahead of defence.

    Personally, I’d give Gayle and Mitrovic a go – neither Perez or Joselu have been doing it, and it’s a pairing that hasn’t been tried yet, so why not give it a go?!.

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  4. I agree Sharpy. Shelvey has the odd top pass but most of the time he is a bit of a liability. Its a tough one because his passes can create something out of nothing but overall, does he do more damage than good? I really like Haydens work drive and movement, but he has been a bit sloppy at times himself recently. I think this is his first PL season? So he is still getting used to it. There is a good player in there though and I am sure he will come good. Same for Merino. I’m not sure shelvey will ever develop past the player he is today.

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  5. I’m a bit concerned by Rafa’s comments. I know he is just saying it how it is, with a view to the transfer window. Maybe he is also trying to deflect the pressure away from the players.

    But at the end of the day he has said the squad tries hard, but is just shit. Are they going to take any positives from that? Is it going to give them any belief in their ability?

    I think it is just damage limitation between now and New Year.

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  6. Sham , it will beyond new year if the fat man doesn’t sell up mate. There is no way he will invest anywhere near enough to keep us up and it will be down hill from there. It’s criminal what he’s bought us to from where we were.

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  7. shamrock:
    I agree Sharpy. Shelvey has the odd top pass but most of the time he is a bit of a liability. Its a tough one because his passes can create something out of nothing but overall, does he do more damage than good? I really like Haydens work drive and movement, but he has been a bit sloppy at times himself recently.I think this is his first PL season? So he is still getting used to it. There is a good player in there though and I am sure he will come good. Same for Merino. I’m not sure shelvey will ever develop past the player he is today.

    Sham – could the 3 play together?, a 4-3-3 maybe. Do we have the forwards for that though? – I don’t think so. I think the best we’ve looked so far this season was when Hayden and Merino were in the middle – I’d go back to that for now.

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  8. shamrock:
    I’m a bit concerned by Rafa’s comments. I know he is just saying it how it is, with a view to the transfer window. Maybe he is also trying to deflect the pressure away from the players.

    But at the end of the day he has said the squad tries hard, but is just shit. Are they going to take any positives from that? Is it going to give them any belief in their ability?

    I think it is just damage limitation between now and New Year.

    Sham – good for Rafa I say mate. He’s making his position clear to Ashley or the new owners. You could also say he’s laying down the gauntlet to the current players to prove him wrong – they won’t, but even if it gets them to raise their game, it’s a start.
    I think we are massively missing Lascelles – not just as a player, but as a leader. I don’t think there is another player in there who has his mental toughness and almost arrogance to win – I mean that in a good way.

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  9. SHARPY/SHAM I tend to agree with Sham,if I was a player and manager said that I would think what the fk he doesn’t rate me and we have no chance against these teams so why try that much

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  10. Icedog:
    SHARPY/SHAM I tend to agree with Sham,if I was a player and manager said that I would think what the fk he doesn’t rate me and we have no chance against these teams so why try that much

    Ice – then they need to man up mate. He never once blew smoke up Stevie Gs arse and it made him a better, more determined player for it – Gerrard himself has said that.
    Don’t mistake what I’m trying to say there, I’m not for one second comparing any of these players to Gerrard. I’m simply saying, if he doesn’t kiss the arse of top talented players, I wouldn’t expect him to of those less talented.

    I think Rafa has put his arm round and protected these players enough. He’s just speaking the truth – a rare treat nowadays. But he hasn’t slagged them off or singled any one player out. He’s even tried to convince us that Perez and Joselu are doing ok?!.
    These players should be running through brick walls having the chance to play for a manager/coach of Rafas ability.

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  11. Another possibility is that he has tried the one-on-one confidence boosts – and it has not worked. Who knows…

    I said the other day Lascelles is a big miss. Really need him back.

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  12. Sharpy17: Ice – then they need to man up mate.He never once blew smoke up Stevie Gs arse and it made him a better, more determined player for it – Gerrard himself has said that.
    Don’t mistake what I’m trying to say there, I’m not for one second comparing any of these players to Gerrard.I’m simply saying, if he doesn’t kiss the arse of top talented players, I wouldn’t expect him to of those less talented.

    I think Rafa has put his arm round and protected these players enough.He’s just speaking the truth – a rare treat nowadays.But he hasn’t slagged them off or singled any one player out.He’s even tried to convince us that Perez and Joselu are doing ok?!.
    These players should be running through brick walls having the chance to play for a manager/coach of Rafas ability.

    I may be hoping that Rafa came out with all that because he knows the take over is further done line and doesn’t care what jabba thinks and maybe shove him over the line,or maybe Ime dreaming

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  13. Icedog: I may be hoping that Rafa came out with all that because he knows the take over is further done line and doesn’t care what jabba thinks and maybe shove him over the line,or maybe Ime dreaming

    Ice – could be mate. I reckon Rafa will know more than he will ever let on. I think he’s a major factor in the take over and could well be in touch with the buyers (or his people with their people).
    They will be instructing with regards to how much he’ll have to spend and such like I would have thought.

    I’m still confident the take over will happen. It’s just whether the deal is done before the window opens/closes.

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  14. shamrock:
    I’m a bit concerned by Rafa’s comments. I know he is just saying it how it is, with a view to the transfer window. Maybe he is also trying to deflect the pressure away from the players.

    But at the end of the day he has said the squad tries hard, but is just shit. Are they going to take any positives from that? Is it going to give them any belief in their ability?

    I think it is just damage limitation between now and New Year.

    Sham, me too, but for different reasons. Rafa’s seldom being so negative, especially in public. I sensed some desperation from him. I think all he’s doing and saying is for Ashley to release some funds for him to strengthen the squad. Apparently it is not working. If we have to be in relegation zone to get some funds we are heading there. If we don’t get strengthened in the winter, we will definitely relegate again.

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  15. Icedog: I may be hoping that Rafa came out with all that because he knows the take over is further done line and doesn’t care what jabba thinks and maybe shove him over the line,or maybe Ime dreaming

    </blockq

    Ice, I hope you are right but I feel the other way. It looks the take over will not complete before the end of the year, so his only hope to strengthen the squad is Ashley. This thought is making him desperate.

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  16. Not confident about tonight’s match. I’d drop Ritchie actually and give Aarons a chance to see what he can do.

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  17. Shame we are bot on telly tonight. Which channel shows goals as they come in? I dont really want to watch watford v man utd…

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  18. Joselu up front again and Gayle and Mitro on the bench.
    I don’t think you will see any goals going in for us on any channel Sham.

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  19. sidekick:
    Joselu up front again and Gayle and Mitro on the bench.
    Idon’t think you will see any goals going in for us on any channel Sham.

    Ah well. Maybe we can nick a point…

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  20. glad to see Mbemba at LB tonight, and Darlow in goal. But, what is it with Joselu? Don’t get that. Also I would’ve dropped Ritchie for Aarons tonight. Good to see Shelvey dropped too. Hope it is a wake up call for him.

    Cannot see us getting a result though as I don’t see any goals for us. Hope I’m wrong.

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  21. 5 changes but to be honest I can only complain about Joselu still playing. His missed chances are far outweighing his overall contribution to the team.

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  22. What’s up with Ritchie, his arm in a cast!

    So so start. Very cagey. It’s going to be a long night. Murphy looking canny tonight.

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  23. Dubai Toon:
    And this site is pants tonight really having problems. Very slow and keep losing the page.

    been having that problem for weeks mate, just don’t bother saying owt anymore. I open two tabs so when one freezes I may be able to use other one 🙄

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  24. I think 1 scrappy goal will decide this … just hope it’s a scrappy goal for us. Cannot see either team coming back if they go 1 down.

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  25. kimtoon:
    mitro needs putting on, give their back line something to deal with

    Agree Kim.. he should’ve started. Only Murphy stands out for me so far.

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  26. Well the biggest thing to take from that is a come back from 2-0 down.

    Can’t say I’m happy with the performance or Rafas decision to keep going with Joselu and Perez – but forget that for now. An away draw from a game that looked done and over, could well be the kick we need …. coz December looks bloody awful!!.

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  27. Miles Starforth‏
    @milesstarforth

    Follow Follow @milesstarforth

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    Newcastle fans are chanting ‘you’re getting Pardew in the morning’ as they leave The Hawthorns. #nufc #wba

    😆 😆 😆 😆

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  28. He will probably have them well clear of relegation for the next year or so though… Bad news for us in our current situation.

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  29. Sharpy17:
    Well the biggest thing to take from that is a come back from 2-0 down.

    Can’t say I’m happy with the performance or Rafas decision to keep going with Joselu and Perez – but forget that for now.An away draw from a game that looked done and over, could well be the kick we need …. coz December looks bloody awful!!.

    Funnily enough, Sharpy, our dip has coincided with dropping Perez. Maybe he does contribute more than us mere mortals realise. Still no idea why Joselu though. Mitro could do just the same but also score the odd goal.

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  30. Pardews getting the gig coz he’s mates with one of the board fellas I read – so that’s Newcastle, Palace and now WBA where he’s getting a job based on who you know not what you’ve done.
    To be fair, Pulis only won 1 in 20 odd games I think, so probably deserved the bullet, but I’d be interested to know how their fans feel about getting Pardew.

    Fat Sam looking like he’s off to Everton as well.

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  31. Stuart79: Funnily enough, Sharpy, our dip has coincided with dropping Perez. Maybe he does contribute more than us mere mortals realise. Still no idea why Joselu though. Mitro could do just the same but also score the odd goal.

    Stu – maybe, but equally we have lost Atsu, Merino and Lascelles during that dip in form too, so I wouldn’t be absolutely sure it can all be pinned on Perez.

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