I can recall seasons where our trips to St. James's Park (or, indeed, our entertainment of the Magpies at The Hawthorns) would result in much disappointment for Albion fans. Similarly to how we see Stoke now, the Toon seemingly forever had a bogey over the Baggies; something which quite recently is slowly reversing.
I distinctly remember the 'Michael Owen and Alan Shearer' show one season – the England duo doing the damage in a 0-3 success at The Hawthorns. A performance I can now look back on and appreciate. And until last season, we hadn't got close to winning at the 'Sports Direct Arena' (you're welcome, Mr. Ashley). Points are picked up against the Toon on a slightly more regular basis thankfully, these days.
Newcastle enjoyed a competitive campaign in the Europa League this season, following a well deserved spot earned in last season's top flight. The run came to an end recently when former Champions League side Benfica saw off the North East side over two legs. Healthy portions of salt were then slowly rubbed into the open wounds the following Sunday when rivals Sunderland swept aside the Geordies under the influence of their new, ah, enthusiastic boss Paolo Di Canio.
Albion meanwhile have had two full weeks' preparation ahead of this fixture, following the movement of their encounter with Manchester City last week due to the champions' FA cup exploits. This time out may be welcome, with the Baggies without a win in three, including defeat in their last two.
If you'd have asked many neutrals who be sitting in eighth and thirteenth respectively at this stage of the season, most would probably have swapped the two sides' current positions. This is partially because of the success United had in the Premier League last year, plus the fact that many pundits tipped the Baggies to be nearer to the bottom of the table, something they have avoided.
I'm hoping (and thinking) we'll get an open game with some goals in front of a packed Black Country and Geordie crowd. All we need to rely on now is the glorious spring weather. Fingers crossed.
Albion will be without Youssouf Mulumbu for the second game as he continues to serve his ban. George Thorne and Zoltan Gera are obvious absentees, while Steven Reid and Liam Ridgewell are expected to be fit. Izzy Brown is expected to miss out, as is Peter Odemwingie.
Newcastle suffered a double blow during the last week. Tim Krul is set to miss the rest of the season after dislocating his shoulder in the Tyne-Wear derby. Rob Elliott should be fit enough to deputise. Ryan Taylor also received the news this week that he may miss the entirety of next season also.
Match StatsNames related to both teams: Sir Bobby Robson, Steve Clarke, Steve Watson There has been 13 meetings between the two sides in the Premier League. Newcastle have been victorious in eight, Albion in two and there have been three draws. West Brom have remained in the top half of the table for the whole of the season. Papiss Cisse has scored 5 of Newcastle's last seven goals (all comps.) Cisse has scored on 90 mins or later against West Brom, Stoke, Anzi and Fulham this season- all winning those respective matches. The reverse fixture finished 2-1 to the Magpies.
Neither team have much to play for, the Toon probably a couple of points away from being a concrete fixture in England's top flight next season. I just think Albion, with the extra prep and rest, will be looking to amend their poor run of late. It will be anything but easy, and keeping Papiss Cisse quiet (especially in the dying minutes!) will be a requirement, but I fancy the hosts to edge it.
Match Score: 2-1
*On a side note, all Albion fans will have been saddened to hear the news of the passing of former kit man Dave Matthews. Mr. Matthews worked at the club for more than 50 years after battling cancer, and it's great to hear that he'll be remembered via a minute's applause and the wearing of black armbands by the players. Rest in peace.
Source: WBA MAD