The Big Match Tactical View: Newcastle v West Brom

With eight in nine, Loic Remy knows the way to goal
With eight in nine, Loic Remy knows the way to goal

Michael Cox looks at the tactics and statistics ahead of Saturday's late kick-off.

"In the last 11 matches between these sides in all competitions, there hasn’t been a single clean sheet."

Back both teams to score at 1.748/11


Newcastle United v West Bromwich Albion
Saturday 17:30, Sky Sports 1
Match Odds: Newcastle 2.0621/20, West Brom 4.03/1, The Draw 3.613/5.

Saturday's late kick-off is a difficult game to predict, because there's a huge contrast between what you expect from looking at the line-ups, and what the statistics tell us about previous meetings between Newcastle and West Bromwich Albion.

On paper, it's difficult to see where the creativity and technical ability will come from. Newcastle certainly have some talented technical players, but in recent weeks Alan Pardew has played a rather boxy 4-4-2 system that is about positional discipline, structure and defensive shape. Minimal creative freedom is given to the attacking players, with even forwards Loic Remy and Shola Ameobi having a key defensive job without possession.

West Brom, meanwhile, are one of the division's most organised sides. Claudio Yacob and Youssouf Mulumbu shield the centre-backs well, while Morgan Amalfitano and Chris Brunt get up and down the line nicely, protecting their full-backs before motoring forward to swing in crosses. There's a danger that both sides will concentrate on remaining compact, and neither side will dominate the game.

Yet the statistics tell an entirely different story. In the last 11 matches between these sides, in all competitions, there hasn't been a single clean sheet - both sides have scored in every fixture. That's an extraordinary and surely unique record between two current Premier League sides, and suggests there should be goals at St James Park.

If there are to be goals, Newcastle are the more likely side to be scoring them. Their home record has been impressive this season - they've lost just once - and have scored two goals or more in their last four home matches. West Brom, meanwhile, have won just once on their travels this season.

The obvious pick for first goalscorer is Remy, who was Newcastle's only major arrival this summer, but has proved one of the signings of the season so far. He's a fine all-round striker, most obviously a threat with his pace in behind the defence, but also clever at positioning himself to meet crosses and cut-backs from wide areas. West Brom will play particular attention to him, and might attempt to defend deep to negate his pace.

Newcastle's other main threat is Yoann Gouffran, who plays wide on the left. He'll be up against Steven Reid, an unnatural full-back who can appear uncomfortable when players run at him directly. Expect Newcastle to work that side of the pitch frequently - on the right, Moussa Sissoko tucks in more, and Liam Ridgewell is a solid full-back.

West Brom's main threat will be on the break - Stephane Sessegnon can motor forward nicely in possession, and his battle against Cheick Tiote will be interesting. Don't be surprised if the Ivorian picks up a card for halting one of Sessegnon's counter-attacks.

Shane Long is a great outlet, too - his well-taken goals in the derby against Aston Villa on Monday night demonstrated his skill at controlling long balls, and he'll work the channels when West Brom's full-backs push high up the pitch.

I fancy Newcastle for this one, but 2.0621/20 is a little too short for my liking. Instead, I'll back both teams to score at - to repeat the earlier statistic, it's happened in the last 11 meetings between these two, so 1.748/11 looks good to me.

Recommended bet:
Back both teams to score at 1.748/11
  

The Betfair Trader's View: Alan Thompson

Newcastle are looking for their fourth consecutive premier league win on Saturday evening as they entertain a West Brom side who have only lost once on the road this season (Liverpool 1-4). That defeat being the only one in their last nine premier league outings. Historically this fixture has produced goals with the last eight meetings at St James’ Park all going over 2.5 goals and both teams scoring in seven of the eight occasions.

Since drawing a pair of blanks in their opening two games Newcastle have found the back of the net in their last ten Premier League starts and it is possibly no surprise that they were without the services of Yohan Cabaye for those early fixtures. Newcastle have not been behind at half-time in any of their home games, drawing four and leading two of those six games.

West Bromwich Albino have already drawn four of their six away games (66.67%) this campaign, to put this into perspective they had only drawn eight away games in their last two top-flight campaigns (three last season and five the season before – 21.05%). WBA have already visited Liverpool, Chelsea, Man Utd and Everton this campaign, and to come away from that set of fixtures with only one defeat and five points is testament to what former Magpies caretaker boss Steve Clarke is doing at the club. All six of West Brom’s away goals have come in the second half.

Despite the Baggies' impressive away numbers, I think Newcastle at 2.06 to continue their run of form is a fair price and I will be backing them to win this one. I will also have small wager on 2-1 at 9.6 in the correct score market.

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