Newcastle United attempt to bounce back from the dismal and still deeply hurtful 3-0 Tyne-Wear derby reverse this weekend by visiting high-flying West Brom at The Hawthorns.
Our worst defeat against Sunderland in 34 years has left an awful taste in the mouth. It wasn’t just the defeat as we were beaten fair and square on the day, it was the manner of the defeat and the lack of effort displayed by any players in what is arguably our most important regular fixture of the season, especially in a season in which the only thing left to go for is to beat and finish above them lot!
Alan Pardew has come in for a lot of stick post-Sunderland, and so he should should, but as Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa admitted to the press earlier, the players – a lot of whom escape criticism from fans in favour of piling more pressure on Pardew – must take a fair portion of the blame and collectively they need to start putting things right pretty damn quickly.
Tiredness was used an excuse after the match and I can sort of get that, if we got to say 60-70 minutes and started to look weary, but to look knackered from the first minute and bereft of ideas for the duration suggests to me that it was more than tiredness at fault. Whatever is blamed or whatever is wrong needs sorting, hopefully tomorrow at The Hawthorns.
Steve Clarke will be without the services of Peter Odemwingie and Izzy Brown who have been ruled out due to respective knee and groin injuries. George Thorne and Zoltan Gera remain sidelined. Youssouf Mulumbu serves the second of his three-match suspension following his red card picked up against West Ham while Liam Ridgewell is doubtful.
Tim Krul (dislocated shoulder), Cheik Tiote (hamstring) and Sylvain Marveaux (groin) are the latest additions to the NUFC treatment room. Krul will be out for the rest of the season whilst the severity of the injuries of Tiote and Marveaux are as yet unknown.
Rob Elliot is fit to play after shaking off an ankle injury picked up against the Mackems while Steve Harper will be available to deputise if needs be.
Fabricio Coloccini is training again although won’t be considered for selection with the home game against Liverpool next weekend looking to be the game he could make a return in.
Looking longer term, Haris Vuckic is still sidelined and it’s not good news for Ryan Taylor. Having been out for eight months after injuring his cruciate ligament the former Wigan man had resumed training and was closing in on a return to first-team action. It’s now transpired that having battled back from one serious injury he has now suffered another cruciate injury and will miss the bulk, if not all, of next season also.
Newcastle have won the last two fixtures between the two sides with Papiss Cisse grabbing one of those last-gas winners against the Baggies earlier on in the season handing us a 2-1 win at St James’ Park.
Our last trip to The Hawthorns produced one of the best away performances I’ve seen from a United side in a long time as we ran out 3-1 winners in a game we pretty much dominated from start to finish. It would be nice if we could do it again tomorrow but I doubt it.
This will be the 117th meeting between the two sides. So far West Brom have won 43 times times compared to 42 wins for United.
At The Hawthorns it’s not as close and we’ve generally struggled there in recent years, with last season proving to be an exception to what is pretty much the rule when these two teams meet in the Black Country. In total 57 matches have been played at West Brom with the home side winning 26 times compared to just 13 victories for the Magpies.
Stats and facts:
West Brom (along with Everton) have used the fewest players in the league this season (23) whilst United (32) have used more than any other side.
United managed to maintain 66% of ball possession against Sunderland – their best possession figure of the season – but still lost.
In total, Newcastle have had 47 attempts at goal in their last two league games against Fulham and Sunderland yet have just one goal to show for it.
West Brom have won seven penalties so far this season. Only Chelsea (9) have won more.
Chris Brunt could make his 200th league appearance for West Brom whilst James Perch could make his 300th club career appearance if selected.
I’m really struggling to get myself up for this game following the result last week. That defeat and the manner on which our players allowed it to be inflicted has really knocked the stuffing out of me and it will take a performance of immense magnitude for the players to earn my belief back.
Dramatic? Maybe a bit but I, along with scores of others, feel so let down after last week that it’s only the players and manager who can make it right. It’s up to them to do just that against West Brom tomorrow.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 20th April, 2013
Venue: The Hawthorns