Newcastle will be hoping to put their winless streak to bed this Sunday when they face West Brom at St James’ Park (3pm GMT).
It’s very much second season syndrome for Alan Pardew’s side this year. After an exceptional campaign last season, they’re currently struggling to replicate the form that saw them among the elite of the Premier League for so long.
And even the possibility for Europa League qualification is a few steps out of reach at this time. Newcastle are 11th and haven’t won a league game since beating Norwich 1-0 at home towards the end of last month.
But it’s not just the position and lack of wins that should be a worry: the combined forces of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse really do not look to be anything of a force when they’re in the starting XI together.
Both strikers were not exactly firing at the same time last season either, but the form of the entire team did a lot to mask that. It was very much Demba Ba’s team for the first half of the season and Cisse’s for the second half following his arrival in January.
It should be high up the list of priorities for Alan Pardew to find a way for the two Senegalese internationals to perform and grab the goals in equal measure.
There should, however, be an obvious nod to the need to perform in the Europa League alongside the Premier League fixtures. Newcastle are getting by in Europe, having recently beaten Club Brugge 1-0 at home. Even with seemingly two teams for the two competitions for Pardew, it’s still a stretch for the resources he has at the club.
Cheick Tiote will start the first of his three-game ban following his sending off against Sunderland last week. Newcastle were ahead for much of the game, but Demba Ba headed past his own keeper to force the draw.
Newcastle should take positives from the fact that they were still able to frustrate Sunderland, despite only having 10 men on the pitch. And combined with the Europa League win on Thursday, the team should be confident going into this weekend’s game.
West Brom coincidently can look at themselves as this season’s Newcastle. Performing well, grabbing surprise results and sitting up among the top teams in the league table.
Last week would have seen The Baggies grab at least one point from their home game against Manchester City, but Edin Dzeko rose highest once again to ensure the champions left with all three points.
But let’s not get away from the fact that West Brom made life very difficult for City. Or to be more respectful to them and Steve Clarke, they certainly gave evidence that their position in 6th is no fluke.
Clarke, however, will be looking to iron out West Brom’s tendency to concede goals very late in the game. They’ve conceded six goals inside the last 10-minutes in their last seven games in all competitions. Clarke’s side are a hard working team, but perhaps they’re losing focus as the game nears its end.
Regardless, they are always a threat they are when going forward. Shane Long is the top scorer with five this season, and players like Zoltan Gera and Romelu Lukaku are also chipping in.
Newcastle v West Brom Betting Tips Advice
- Newcastle are the favourites at biggest odds of 21/20 with William Hill. West Brom are best at 3/1 (BetVictor, Blue Square, Ladbrokes). Both teams should be confident going into this game. However I believe they will cancel each other out and play out a draw @ 13/5 (Bet365, SkyBet, BetVictor, Stan James).
- Shane Long is the West Brom top scorer and has two in his last three. Back him to score at anytime @ 11/4 (SkyBet, Blue Square, William Hill).