Newcastle return to Premier League action tomorrow when West Brom visit St James’ Park for an untelevised Sunday afternoon encounter.
The Baggies have started off the season superbly and find themselves sitting pretty in 6th place in the league, four points ahead of the home side.
With Steve Clarke impressing in his first real stint as a manager, things are looking up for West Brom and they will be eyeing three points on Tyneside, a place where he once took charge of one game following the resignation of Ruud Gullit – a 5-1 defeat to Manchester United – and I’m sure he’ll want to prove a point on his return.
However Newcastle have their own reasons to go for the win tomorrow. If Alan Pardew and Co want to look like emulating what they achieved last season then the team will need to start converting some of these draws into wins. Granted we’ve only lost twice in the league season, to Manchester United and Chelsea, but it’s the draws against the likes of Aston Villa that have prevented us being further up the table than the 11th place we currently occupy.
A return to league action will also see a return for some stars who only had limited involvement on Thursday night. Tim Krul, Jonas Gutierrez, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa all failed to feature against Club Brugge with Yohan Cabaye, Fabricio Coloccini and Shola Ameobi all having to make do with an appearance from the bench.
However most of them will be back in the starting XI tomorrow with the only real doubt in my mind being Shola Ameobi who will likely make do with a place on the bench again in favour of the goal-hunting Papiss Cisse.
Cheik Tiote starts the first of a three game suspension following his sending off against Sunderland last week, with James Perch likely to be the one who replaces him. Ryan Taylor, Haris Vuckic and Dan Gosling are all out injured.
Chris Brunt and Billy Jones could feature for the Baggies whilst Jerome Thomas is back in training following a spell on the sidelines with a knee problem. Claudio Yacob is likely to miss the game with a hamstring injury.
West Brom are most definitely our bogie team, which started really when we found ourselves in the Championship with them. In the relegation season we completed a league double over them but since then our results against the Midlanders have taken somewhat of a nosedive.
They emerged victorious at St James’ Park last season edging a five goal game 3-2 although we did get our own back at The Hawthorns by winning 3-1 and putting in a superb display to boot. However that is our only victory home and away in all competitions in seven meetings since relegation and then through subsequent promotion. One win in seven is pretty woeful.
Overall our records against each other are pretty similar, although yet again West Brom hold the advantage. Of 118 matches in all competitions, West Brom have emerged victorious on 45 occasions, Newcastle on 42 occasions with the other 31 meetings, unsurprisingly, ending as draws. West Brom have scored 201 goals against us compared to our 199 against them.
Stats and facts
This is generally a high-scoring fixture in recent times. Four goals or more have been scored in six of the last seven encounters.
Newcastle have won only one game in the last seven league games. However they have only lost twice in the last 14 home games (Manchester City and Manchester United).
West Brom have not won away from home in nine attempts and have only scored two goals this season away from The Hawthorns.
It’s a home game against, with all due respect, a team that isn’t in that top bracket of clubs, like a Manchester City or a Manchester United for example, so I’ll be looking for for us to go for the three points.
Having said that, time and time again West Brom have proved to be stern opposition for us do I don’t expect it to be an easy game. Far from it in fact.
If we play to our potential we should have enough to secure the three points, but that is a very logical thought in a very illogical game. It doesn’t work out as it should “on paper” more often than not so we will need to be assured at the back and confident in attack whilst controlling the play if we want to grab the points.
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 28th October, 2012
Venue: St James’ Park