Newcastle United will be hoping to bounce back from the bitter disappointment of their Boxing Day loss by collecting all three points away to West Bromwich Albion, who will be intent on avoiding a third straight defeat.
This has turned into a very important game for the Baggies, who are now only three points above the drop zone with their opponents lying in the final relegation spot as things stand, so there will be some concern around if they were to lose this one. They came away very frustrated on Saturday as they were sunk by a soft goal against another struggling side in Swansea City, while they felt hard done by as at least one very strong penalty shout was turned down, much to the ire of Tony Pulis.
While they are for the most part tight at the back and generally give very little away, West Brom really do need to pose more of a goalscoring threat from open play if they are to lift themselves into a more secure position in the Premier League table, rather than to rely on set-pieces. As Saido Berahino continues to be left out in the cold there is pressure on Rickie Lambert to find his scoring boots for Albion, and here he will at least be encouraged by the fact that Newcastle’s defence always gives the opposition a chance.
That Newcastle were second best against Everton cannot be disputed as so often they were threatened to be picked apart by some incisive attacking football played at a high tempo. However, the manner in which they did succumb to defeat was cruel in the extreme and left them rue a couple of very good chances that were passed up. Just as Siem De Jong did the previous week at home to Aston Villa, Aleksandar Mtrovic met a pinpoint cross only to miss the target when a goal looked to be the only conceivable outcome.
Head Coach Steve McClaren has since faced a big challenge to pick his players up after such late anguish, so a lot will depend here on how they respond. On the plus side, recent performances have shown that this team is united and playing a lot more for each other, and they will be desperate to move out of the bottom three with success at the Hawthorns, a ground at which they have a decent record in the past. As for the key battles, look no further than Claudio Yacob versus Jack Colback in the midfield.
James McClean and Salomon Rondon remain suspended for West Brom, who have no new injury concerns to deal with.
The visitors are likely to still be without Papiss Cisse, while they remain unable to call upon Rolando Aarons, Tim Krul, Jamaal Lascelles and Gabriel Obertan.
Played for both – Steve Watson: Within three years of breaking into the Newcastle first-team, the versatile Watson helped his local club reach the Premier League in 1993 and was part of the side that came so close to winning it under Kevin Keegan, making a total of 154 top-flight appearances for the Magpies. Late in his career he joined West Brom, making 30 outings in 2005-06 as the club was relegated to the Championship.