Date: 5th December 2010 at 12:18am
Written by:

Newcastle United visit West Brom, one of their favourite clubs to play against in Premier League years. Unbeaten in 17 league matches against the Throstles, can the Toon avoid another of the returning Barton`s “coupon buster” moments?

West Brom seek to continue a return to form following an impressive win away at Everton last week. This followed a poor run of 1 point in 5 games after reaching the dizzt heights of 4th in the Premier League earlier in the season.

For the last West Brom league win against Newcastle we have to go back to 1984, although the Throstles have won 2 cup matches in the intervening period. The first of those was when Gary Megson brought his team to St James` with Russell Hoult putting on one of the memorable goalkeeping displays. Di Matteo came out on top during the FA Cup match earlier this year.

Di Matteo aims to be the first West Brom manager since Alan Ashman in the 1960s to beat Newcastle twice, where even the likes of Ron Atkinson, Johnny Giles and Ronnie Allen failed. The last West Brom manager to do so in two competitions was the legend who discovered Johann Cruyff, Vic Buckingham who went on to manage the likes of Ajax, Barcelona and Olymiacos.

Like Hughton, Buckingham has spent the majority of his playing career at Spurs. Hughton has his own memories of West Brom, beating them in the relegation season after Kinnear had suffered heart problems, completing the double. A draw in the opening game of last season at the Hawthorns helped put him on the path to his first permanent managerial appointment.

Hughton`s selections are fairly straightforward in most parts of the field. Tim Krul, who performed heroics last season when replacing the injured Steve Harper, has cemented his place in goal and is getting better with every game (apart from Bolton away).

Defensively, Simpson continues his return to the side with one of the revelations for the season so far, Enrique at left back. In the absence of still suspended Coloccini and Williamson, the veteran Campbell will carry on alongside Steve Taylor, fresh out of contract negotiations.

Jonas should take his place on the left with Tiote maintaining his acclimatization in the holding role. Joey Barton is available after suspension, and could replace either Routledge on the right or Guthrie in the middle. The prospect of Guthrie and Barton interchanging is mouth watering.

ndy Carroll is set to maintain his fantastic start to the season as the most prolific Newcastle goalscorer since Andy Cole, as measured by goals per start. A repeat of his brace in the January cup match would take him back to the top of the Premier League charts. Alongside will be the man who scored a brace at home in April 2006 against the Baggies, Shola Ameobi.

Di Matteo has a number of injury doubts, with the impressive Mulumbu suspended. However, the Championship`s 2nd best goalkeeper from last season, Scott Carson is sure to start.

In defence, injuries permitting, we expect to see the experienced cosmopolitan quartet of Chilean Jara, Romanian Tamas, Spaniard Ibanez and Czech Cech.

The squad is awash with midfielders, Dorrans having been a thorn in Newcastle`s side last season, but seemingly falling out of favour this time. Fellow Scottish international, Darlington born Smoggy, James Morrison could feature alongside Northern Irish Smoggy, Chris Brunt providing width on one side, Former England Under 21 Jerome Thomas on the other, Scarner providing holding reinforcement.

Forward options again depend on fitness, top scorer Russian/Nigerian Odemwinge being among the doubts. Ishmael Miller has impressed against the Toon in the past. Anyone else who could feature is unproven.

eferee for the occasion is Mike Dean who took charge of the season`s opener in this fixture last year as well as the 2-1 home win in the home match in 2008. With the exception of Wigan away twice, the Magpies have not experienced a defeat under him in 12 games. West Brom have not won under him in their last 10 games.

As a disciplinary curiosity, apart from the red card to Arsenal`s Koscielny in Newcastle`s away win at Arsenal, the only sendings off this season for Dean have been in UEFA or international competition. West Brom have the worst record for reds in the Premier League, with Newcastle leading the way in yellows.

For those seeking obscure bets, there has been a history of surprising goalscorers, Ian Baird scoring his only goal for the club in this fixture, Gary Brazil scoring one his only two league goals for the club. Number 9s tend to do well here, as well as Baird, Quinn, McGhee, Shearer and Macdonald all doing the job in the last 40 years.

We should not expect a scoreless game, that having happened only three times in this fixture at the Hawthorns in 58 meetings, once 5 years ago, the others in 1924 and in the FA Cup in1938. Newcastle`s away form suggests that they will be a genuine threat. For the home side, injury doubts suggest the need for a fighting spirit as they aim to score their first home goal after almost 4 hours of football.

An away win will be the bookies` bet, but who knows with the Toon?

Newcastle at the Baggies

58 W11 D20 L27 F76 A113

remier League

4 W2 D2 L0 F8 A4


est Brom (from): Carson, Myhill, Jara, Hurst, Tamas, Scharner, Ibanez, Cech, Shorey, Reid, Dorrans, Brunt, Morrison, Tchoyi, Cox, Odemwingie, Fortune, Miller, Meite, Barnes, Thomas, Berahino.

Newcastle (from): Krul, Soderberg, Simpson, Perch, Ferguson, Enrique, S. Taylor, Campbell, Kadar, Barton, Tiote, Smith, Routledge, Gutierrez, Guthrie, Vuckic, Tavernier, Donaldson, Carroll, Ameobi, Lovenkrands, Ranger, Xisco.