West Bromwich Albion 3 Newcastle United 1
Dec 6 2010 by Luke Edwards, The Journal
NEWCASTLE United may have been the best team in the Championship last season, but they never managed to look it whenever they came up against the side which followed them back to the Premier League.
In three meetings, Newcastle failed to beat West Bromwich Albion and the Baggies still feel aggrieved at having to share the spoils in both league matches after enjoying the better of both tussles.
A 4-2 FA Cup victory back in January still gave them the edge last term and their quick passing style was once again too much for Newcastle to handle yesterday as they secured a victory which means Chris Hughton’s side have not won any of their last five games.
A brave draw against Chelsea ensures it is not quite as bad as that raw statistic sounds, but there is something worrying about the lack of resolve on their travels.
To make matters worse, they are becoming increasingly predictable as an offensive force, over-reliant on Andy Carroll and unable to stretch teams enough down either flank, with a midfield deprived of creativity in its centre.
United began slowly and spent most of the first half going backwards.
While they improved in the second half they were vulnerable on the counter-attack and were ultimately killed off on it.
For 20 minutes, the Magpies rarely got the ball out of their own half as the midfield failed to get a foot on the ball and the strikers failed to make anything stick up front whenever the defence launched a ball forward in the vague hope of relieving the pressure.
If the performance at Bolton was diabolical, this was almost as bad. The only saving grace was that, for all of their possession, West Brom only had one goal to show for it when the teams headed off at half-time.
Indeed, while it may have been one- way traffic, the United defence held its line fairly well. Paul Scharner had the home side’s first sight of goal after 12 minutes with a corner which flew well over the bar.