West Brom hasn’t won a match in two months and prevailed just once in the last 15 fixtures, which explains why they are the underdogs tonight. Newcastle is not the best traveling team but the players don’t settle for second best and are more than willing to put everything on the line. The best proof is that the team didn’t draw a single match on the road and won 5/9 fixtures.
Keith Downing has good reasons to be worried about his position as manager, given the fact that his team is winless in 10 games. To be perfectly fair, he is not to be blamed for most of these defeats as he only took over in early December when Steve Clarke was sacked. Unless he finds a way of turning the ship around soon, West Bromwich is very likely to relegate at the end of the regular season, which would be a catastrophic event for the club.
Right now, they stand two points clear of the relegation zone, which is hardly encouraging and they can’t afford to slip any further. By contrast, Newcastle won eight out of the last 10 games and except for the narrow margin defeat to Arsenal, they were impressive throughout December. Furthermore, they have an impeccable track record in head to head games, winning or drawing all games played against West Bromwich in the last two years.
For the first time this season they have a genuine chance of tying Manchester United and Tottenham for the sixth place, even if for just a couple of hours. The aforementioned teams will compete in the final match of the day and the winner will probably leapfrog two teams to secure the fourth place. The visitors will make very few changes in the starting formation as the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal is hardly worrisome.
The odds for an away victory stand that 2.80 with most bookmakers, which is plenty of value Given the Way, Newcastle played recently. West Bromwich drew the last three games but it is unlikely for them to secure another point, so there is no point in sacrificing these odds for a double chance wager. The least risk-averse players can do is to take the visiting team with the cover of a 0:0 Asian handicap which has the stakes returned if the game ends in a draw.