West Brom v Newcastle, 15:00
– West Brom left themselves a mountain to climb after falling 2-0 behind in their last Premier League outing with Arsenal. Despite James Morrison tucking a penalty away in the second half, it was not enough for Steve Clarke’s side to take anything away from the game.
– With all the signs pointing towards Romelu Lukaku’s departure come the end of the season, the Baggies will be hard pressed to find someone else with his devastating impact. The young Belgian has take just on average just 37.2 minutes to conjure up an on target attempt on goal this season.
– Gareth McAuley remains one of the leagues most effective defenders this season according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index. He currently sits 6th for total defensive contributions with 296, meaning he will very likely break through the 300 barrier this weekend against a Newcastle outfit likely to provide him with plenty of work.
– Expect Steve Clarke’s side to potentially turn to James Morrison for inspiration this weekend, given the Scottish midfielder’s current position as the Baggies’ most consistent attacker. Morrison has now racked up 7 assists this season, to complement his rate of completing a pass in the opponent’s half once every 4.4 minutes, the lowest in the West Brom squad. Look for him to be at the centre of everything positive about their play on Saturday.
– A crippling 0-3 defeat to fiercest rivals Sunderland last Sunday will have been a bitter pill for Newcastle and they will be looking to bounce back in a positive fashion this weekend.
– Newcastle’s defence will have been asking some hard questions of themselves this week following their collapse against Sunderland. Tim Krul in particular will be keen not to see his goal breached again and will be doing his utmost to add to his tally of 134 saves this season.
– It was a rude introduction to the Tyne-Wear derby for Moussa Sissoko, in a match where the Newcastle midfield were dominated by their counterparts for large parts of the game. Sissoko will certainly be looking to improve upon his own personal defensive record this weekend, having only completed 25% of his 20 attempted challenges this season.
– Yoan Gouffran has certainly made something of an impression following his arrival at St James’ Park. The Frenchman clearly has an eye for a gap and currently has the best shot accuracy rate in the Newcastle squad, with 70.6% of his 17 attempts finding their way on target. The Magpies may well need his sharp shooting this weekend against an often stubborn West Brom defence.