Newcastle have lost eight consecutive matches overall and remain two points out of the drop zone. Arch rivals Sunderland have a game at hand and could overtake them with a victory at Everton. It would be one of the biggest collapses in Premier league history. The 3-0 loss to Leicester City was probably Newcastle’s worst performance of the season.
Their opponents West Brom have enjoyed a modest improvement under Tony Pulis. They currently sit in 13th position in the table, seven points out of the relegation zone. A victory on Saturday would seal a place in the Premier League for next season.
Newcastle will need all the support they can get from their home fans on Saturday. The club is still facing the specter of a fans boycott. And the pressure is on John Carver to salvage something from this season.
Injuries and Suspensions
The good news is that Papiss Cisse is finally eligible to play after serving his suspension for spitting at Jonny Evans. However, there is some concern about his fitness and he could very well start on the bench. Winger Rolando Aarons has returned to training after a long layoff due to a hamstring injury. He could return to action before the season is done.
Siem de Jong appears to have picked up a thigh injury and he is now doubtful for the match. Daryl Janmaat and Mike Williamson were both sent off against Leicester City and will be suspended. Williamson received a two-match ban. Paul Dummett (knee) and Cheick Tioté (knee) are still unavailable. Massadio Haidara (knee) and Steven Taylor (ruptured Achilles tendon) are done for the season.
West Brom have been without first-choice goalkeeper Ben Foster since March because of a serious knee injury. Boaz Myhill will start in goal in his place.
Tactics and Possible Starting Line-Ups
Newcastle boss John Carver has exhausted his tactical maneuvers. Very little has gone right for him and the club after he took over in January. And he faces a dilemma at the back with Janmaat and Williamson unavailable. It is likely that Carver will have to use a makeshift defense on Saturday.
It does seem like Newcastle will start the match with only one striker. Emmanuel Rivière was dreadful against Leicester City. Cisse is some way off from being able to play the full 90 minutes, if he makes the bench at all. Rémy Cabella was curiously left on the bench last week. And it would not be surprising to see Adam Armstrong at some point.
Tony Pulis will have a very healthy squad at his disposal. And he knows Newcastle are a desperate team. He is very unlikely to change very much. The club beat Manchester United last week using a 4-5-1 formation with highly-rated Saido Berahino up front but he has been known to favour 4-4-2 as well. Berahino will be the one to watch. He leads the club in goals with 12 this season.
Tony Pulis is on the verge of orchestrating another remarkable turnaround. A win on Saturday and he would have secured safety. Since Pulis took over in January, West Brom have managed points in eleven of sixteen league matches. They have also won the last two matches on the road, having won at Old Trafford last week and beaten Crystal Palace before that.
Head-to-head, Newcastle have the advantage. They beat the Baggies 2-0 in November. They have won four of the last six matches as well. However, the Magpies are ravaged by injuries and suspensions. Newcastle will need to find that desire that has been so sorrily lacking over the last several months if they are to avoid the drop.
Newcastle could expect a very difficult match on Saturday. Pulis will no doubt favour a defensive approach and look to penetrate the undermanned Newcastle backline. Carver needs to use this as an advantage by pressing early and often. It will be a low scoring encounter. Newcastle will find a way and take a giant leap towards safety.
Newcastle United 1 – 0 West Bromwich Albion