Newcastle United-West Brom Preview
Lament is a common trait shared among struggling Premier League teams, and both West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United are carrying plenty of it into their match Monday at The Hawthorns.
Both the Baggies and Magpies are in the bottom half of the table, with Newcastle currently owning the more dire plight as they enter this match in the relegation zone. The Toons (4-5-9) are 18th with 17 points and trail Norwich City on goal difference after Tom Cleverley's looping header in the third minute of second-half stoppage time condemned them to a 1-0 home loss to Everton on Boxing Day.
"The last header of the game. I'm more disappointed for that set of players because they gave everything," dejected manager Steve McClaren told the league's official website. "You talk about 100 percent - they gave that. They didn't deserve to lose. It's a cruel way to do it.
"They're down. They gave so much. That has to be appreciated. I told them I see a team in there. We'll win games and get lucky sometimes. If we carry on like that we'll have a stronger second half."
That "cruel" defeat ended a three-match unbeaten run for Newcastle, who have played better since starting the season with three points from their first eight matches. The defence has conceded just three goals in the last four games after a 5-1 thrashing by Crystal Palace on Nov. 28.
Cruel is a word Baggies boss Tony Pulis didn't use but may have wanted to after watching his team lose 1-0 at relegation-threatened Swansea City on Saturday. West Bromwich Albion (5-5-8) couldn't find an equaliser after conceding Sung-Yueng Ki's goal in the ninth minute, and Pulis bemoaned what he felt were a pair of penalties referee Roger East failed to call.
"There's two penalty decisions that really changed the game, not falling for us when they should really fall for us," Pulis said. "If you have a look at last week we get a penalty given against us that's not really in the area, it starts outside the area. We play at Leicester, we get two stone-banker penalties that are not given, two again today that are not given.
"I've just said to the lads now, 'That's very unusual for that to happen to a team, that run of bad luck, but we've got to stick in there and we've got to keep working.'"
The Baggies, who are winless in five (0-3-2) on the bounce, also are dealing with injuries that have dulled their play in the final third. Joint-leading scorer Salomon Rondon and midfielder James McClean are both expected to miss this match through injury, and embattled forward Saido Berahino did not provide much in his 30-minute stint off the bench in Wales.
"To be blunt, we got inside their final third a lot of times today, and the final pass or the final ball wasn't of the quality that you want or what you need, so that was disappointing," Pulis said.
Berahino, who has been the object of Tottenham Hotspur's desire since the summer transfer window, has not started since West Brom's Oct. 31 loss to Leicester City and failed to score in his last six matches, yet he remains tied with Rondon and James Morrison for the team lead with three.
Newcastle took four points from last season's matches and posted a 2-0 victory in the corresponding fixture on Nov. 9, 2014 on goals by Ayoze Perez and Fabricio Coloccini on either side of halftime. It's the Magpies' only win versus West Brom in the last seven matches (1-2-4) between the teams.