What a difference winning could make. Newcastle have faced three of the Premier League’s strongest sides over the last three matches and have come out victorious in all of them. But Sunday’s match presents a danger for Alan Pardew. The Newcastle manager must not let the squad lose focus against a tough West Brom side.
With last week’s victory against Liverpool, the Magpies have won three consecutive league matches. And they have only one defeat in their last eight matches in all competitions.
Alan Irvine’s squad had a positive start to the campaign and currently sit 11th in the table, one place higher than Newcastle, on goal differential. West Brom beat Leicester City away last weekend, thanks to an own-goal by Esteban Cambiasso. It will be a sort of homecoming for Irvine, who managed Newcastle’s youth squad between 2001-2005.
Injuries and Suspensions
Newcastle received some bad news about in-form attacker Gabriel Obertan. The Frenchmen was replaced in the first half of last week’s match because of a thigh injury. He could be out months. Defender Mike Williamson sat out the last match after suffering an apparent knock. His status for Sunday remains uncertain.
Cheikh Tioté is still battling a calf injury, which has forced him to miss the last several matches. His status is still unknown. Davide Santon (Knee) and Siem de Jong (thigh) are out long-term.
On the positive side, Papiss Cissé returned to the line-up last week from a knee injury. He should be available against West Brom. And Jonas Gutierrez has left the hospital in Argentina after being treated for testicular cancer. There is no timeline for his return.
West Brom has been without Swedish defender Jonas Olsson because of an Achilles problem. Portuguese winger Silvestre Varela, who is on-loan from FC Porto, has yet to play this season because of a groin injury. Both are not expected to play on Sunday. English midfielder Craig Gardner picked up his fifth yellow card of the season last week and will be suspended for the match.
Alan Pardew has used the 4-2-3-1 formation on all, but a few occasions this season. And with the club doing well, this is unlikely to change on Sunday. The Newcastle manager is spoiled for choice right now with so many players in good form.
The loss of Gabriel Oberton will hurt but Newcastle have plenty of other options in attack. Sammy Ameobi made a surprise start last week against Liverpool. Rémy Cabella has made several good appearances off the bench. While youngsters Rolando Aarons and Ayoze Pérez are hitting their stride right now.
Papiss Cissé is expected to start in the striker position. If healthy, Cheikh Tioté should occupy his normal position in defensive midfield. Vurnon Anita and Yoan Gouffran have been casualties in recent weeks and need to regain their form.
Alan Irvine has also favoured the 4-2-3-1 formation with West Brom this season. And it has yielded some good results so far. The Scottish manager has the club playing some good football. Currently, they have only one defeat in their last six league matches.
Newcastle will have to contend with Burundi-born English striker Saido Berahino. The 21-year-old was recently named to the English team by Roy Hodgson for the first time. He has scored seven league goals so far this season for the Baggies.
West Brom beat Newcastle 1-0 on New Year’s Day last season. But that was their first victory over the Magpies in five contests. West Brom have an unenviable record so far this season at The Hawthorns. The club has only one win through their first five league matches. Their only victory was a 4-0 thrashing of Burnley back on September 28th.
Newcastle put an end to a terrible run of form away from home in the league two weeks ago when they beat Tottenham at White Hart Lane. It was their first win in 10 matches, going back to last season. But if you factor in League Cup wins against Crystal Palace and Manchester City, the Magpies have only one defeat on the road in their last five matches.
Newcastle is in fine form and it is very easy to predict that they will walk all over their opponents on Sunday. But West Brom have already demonstrated this season that they will make talented clubs work for a victory. They have beaten Tottenham this season and held Southampton and Manchester United. But the Magpies will prove to be too strong for them.
West Bromwich Albion 0 – 2 Newcastle United