The battle of the amiable ITV presenters as I’m A Celebrity (Ant and Dec) take on The Sunday Night Show (Adrian Chiles).
How do you predict this one? Up first you have Newcastle
, all cocky swagger having won three games on the bounce, leading striker Loic Remy to talk up their chances of Champions League qualification. Understandable, if slightly misplaced, optimism when you consider the Magpies' impressive victories over Chelsea and Spurs. It wasn’t that long ago when things looked bleak following losses against Hull and Sunderland. Talk on the Toon was more Championship than Champions League.
- Newcastle 2-1 Norwich (Prem)
- Spurs 0-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-0 Chelsea (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-2e Man City (CL)
- S'land 2-1 Newcastle (Prem)
WEST BROM FORM
- WBA 2-2 Aston Villa (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-2 WBA (Prem)
- WBA 2-0 Palace (Prem)
- Liverpool 4-1 WBA (Prem)
- Stoke 0-0 WBA (Prem)
West Brom are equally difficult to fathom. In a season where they’ve won at Old Trafford and should have repeated the trick at Stamford Bridge were it not for Andre Marriner’s cockeyed intervention, they’ve drawn against Fulham, Stoke and Villa. The 2-2 against Paul Lambert’s side was particularly galling as they let a 2-0 lead slide.
By the same token, each side have players capable of superhuman feats of athleticism on their day, as displayed by Tim Krul against Spurs and Shane Long against Villa, the Irishman doing a brilliant impersonation of Lionel Messi for much of the game, bagging a brace in the process. But then those strikes were only Long’s second and third of the season. Brilliant one game, anonymous the next: a recurring theme in his career.
One thing you can (almost) be sure of is that a Frenchman will score. With Remy bagging eight in eight, it means Lyon (20) are the only side in Europe’s top five leagues to have more goals scored by French players (16). Ooh la la.
Defenders Paul Dummet and Steven Taylor could return, leaving long-term absentee Ryan Taylor (knee) the only member of the Newcastle squad not available for selection. Liam Ridgewell (calf) and Scott Sinclair (hamstring) could make it back in time for the Baggies.
Key battle: Yohan Cabaye vs Claudio Jacob
One creates and one destroys. And both players excelled in their respective roles during in their recent games with Chelsea. Cabaye’s passing influenced proceedings all over the pitch, with his assist, 86 per cent pass completion and 11 of 15 passes in the attacking third central to an unlikely triumph.
Jacob’s job will be to stifle the Frenchman. The Argentine, who likes to play guitar and paint in his spare time, also impressed against Chelsea, making 5 tackles in crucial areas, winning possession twice in his own box and twice intercepting passes just outside the area. Solid.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- WBA 1-1 Newcastle (Prem, Apr 13)
- Newcastle 2-1 WBA (Prem, Oct 12)
- WBA 1-3 Newcastle (Prem, Mar 12)
- Newcastle 2-3 WBA (Prem, Dec 11)
- Newcastle 3-3 WBA (Prem, May 11)
The current Newcastle manager comes up against the former Magpies gaffer. Steve Clarke may only have taken charge of one game at St James’ Park, but it still counts. His solitary turn in the Newcastle hotseat followed Ruud Gullit’s resignation in 1999, in a 5-1 shellacking at the hands of Manchester United. More notable than the result was Clarke’s decision to reinstate Alan Shearer and Rob Lee to the team, both players having been marginalised by the thin-skinned Dutchman. Clarke will be hoping to fare a little better this time around.
Facts and figures
Tips and trends
- Newcastle made it 3 wins in a row last weekend – the first time they’d done so for 18 months.
- Newcastle have won 7 of their last 10 matches against middle-third teams, opening the scoring in 6 of those matches.
- West Brom have lost the first half in 8 of their previous 11 away matches against top-half teams.
- The Baggies have also conceded the first goal in 7 of their last 10 away games against top-half sides.
Find the best odds with Bet Butler
Who knows (see above). Let’s go with 1-1.