Newcastle vs. West Brom -- an entertaining fixture

Posted by Marc Duffy

GRAHAM STUART/AFP/Getty ImagesSammy Ameobi's shot set up Papiss Cisse's deflected game-winning goal for Newcastle at home last season against West Brom.

The Newcastle United-West Bromwich Albion fixture has provided some great entertainment in recent years.

In fact you have to go back to Sept. 16, 1959, to find the last 0-0 draw between the two on Tyneside!

In the last 20 playings of this fixture there have been an impressive 66 goals and 14 of these have been scored in the last three games.

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The clubs provided a six-goal thriller on the final day of the 2010-11 season. Newcastle were cruising in that one, racing into a three-goal lead inside of 50 minutes before the familiar second-half barrier came up and a Somen Tchoyi hat trick in the final 30 minutes cost Newcastle three league places and just under two million quid! Tchoyi won't be repeating that on Saturday as he is currently without a club.

After that game, Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said: "One minute we're great, but then another we might not look too much of a threat. I think that's the inconsistency we need to eradicate."

That inability to perform consistently over 90 minutes still remains, but Newcastle have taken maximum points from each of their last three games and look to have built a great platform for themselves this season.

The following season provided another exciting game between the two at Gallowgate, but that time around it was West Brom who left with the points in the bag.

Newcastle's centre-half pairing of Fabricio Coloccini and James Perch struggled badly against the pace of Peter Odemwingie and Shane Long and Paul Scharner's 85th minute goal handed the Baggies a 3-2 win.

Football is a game of fine margins and lucky breaks -- that could have been the night that launched Haris Vuckic into a Newcastle first-team career but it wasn't to be. Vuckic, who this week (and almost two years to the day later) signed for Rotherham United on loan, started for Newcastle in an advanced midfield role.

He struck two thunderbolts at goal and one of them hit the cross-bar whilst the other was brilliantly saved by Ben Foster. If one or both had gone in and Newcastle picked up a result things might be very different for the young Slovenian. Let's hope the Rotherham experience brings him on.

Although last seasons game 'only' provided three goals, it certainly wasn't short on drama. The game was won with a 93rd-minute Papiss Cisse goal. When I say 'Cisse goal' I mean that Sammy Ameobi had a shot that deflected off Cisse's back, totally wrong-footed Foster and hit the Gallowgate End net. They all count!

That goal broke a barren spell of 763 minutes without a goal for Cisse and was his first league goal of the season. He hasn't yet found the net in the Premier League this time around so could history repeat itself? If it does he will probably have to score after coming off the bench.

As for Saturday's game, West Brom are a far tougher prospect than Norwich.

The Throstles have lost only one of their six away games so far this season (4-1 at Anfield to a Luis Suarez-inspired Liverpool) and have picked up results everywhere else they've been, including a draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge and a win against Manchester United at Old Trafford.

Their away record of 1-4-1 shows they're a very difficult team to beat.

In the build up to the game, Pardew was very positive about how things are going both on and off the pitch.

"Last season's Europa campaign was decimating for us and when I was moaning about it a lot of fans thought I was making excuses but it had such an impact," he said. "This year we haven't got that pressure and on Tuesday we probably had the best days training we've had here in terms of numbers."

Pardew also praised West Brom's current form, although the men from the Midlands have only won one of their last six league games (vs Crystal Palace on Nov. 2).

It won't be easy, but Newcastle are at home with another crowd of over 50,000 behind them looking to make it four in a row.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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