At the start of the season I don’t think there was a pundit, punter or supporter in the entire country that would have predicted the season that Newcastle United have enjoyed.
Against the backdrop of owner Mike Ashley balancing the books and moving on players with big wages and even bigger egos, it looked like Alan Pardew would do well to finish half way up the Premier League.
But what a job Pardew has done. The performances of Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton have subsequently proved the hierarchy correct in dispensing with their services against, it must be noted, the wishes of the fans and the bargain price replacements have been moulded by Pardew into far more than the sum of their parts.
Currently sitting in sixth position just two points off Chelsea in fifth and five points above Liverpool in seventh, the Toon Army are surpassing all expectations. Not that their position is a fluke; far from it: organised and strong, in Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse Newcastle possess one of the best strike partnerships in the division.
The Baggies may have won their last two home games, but I like to qualify those victories as coming against a jaded Sunderland and a Chelsea side doing their best to get Andre Villas-Boas the sack.
Ba’s 16 goals make him one of the best free transfers in memory and Cisse, a £10million January purchase from Bundesliga side Freiburg, has started his career on Tyneside in fine fashion, scoring three brilliant goals already.
With Newcastle’s general defensive solidity – they have kept ten clean sheets, a record only four sides can better – those two up front will always give them a chance of picking up results and I expect them to be picking up another three points when the Toon travel to the Hawthorns to face West Bromwich Albion today.
The odds on that happening are 23/10 with bwin, with the draw chalked up at 23/10 and West Brom quoted at 23/20 to grab a home win that until recently they have found hard to come by.
The Baggies may have won their last two home games, but I like to qualify those victories as coming against a jaded Sunderland and a Chelsea side doing their best to get Andre Villas-Boas the sack. Their home form beforehand was abysmal: with eight defeats and just eight goals scored in the previous 12 fixtures at the Hawthorns, it will take more than a couple of decent results to convince me that West Brom aren’t still doing their best stuff away from home.
Besides, Roy Hodgson has his side in 14th place and West Brom are as safe as houses. Apart from the artificial target of a top half finish the Baggies have nothing to play for, and it certainly looked that way as they were comprehensively outplayed at Wigan when drawing 1-1 last time out.
I don’t see Europa League chasing Newcastle being such obliging opponents as the relegation threatened Latics. Newcastle are still very much on their game and having got over a mini-wobble of no wins in four (although away trips to Spurs and Arsenal and a derby against Sunderland explain that away) with a victory against Norwich on Sunday, I really like the 23/10 they can put more misery on Albion’s long suffering home support.
I would also look at the 17/4 that Newcastle win a match that sees over 2.5 goals. There have been goals galore when these two sides have met recently – six of the last seven have seen at least four goals scored and a look at West Brom’s home defeats makes interesting reading: since promotion to the Premier League in 2010, ten of their 14 home defeats have featured more than 2.5 goals, making that 17/4 quite a tempting punt.
Recommended bet: Newcastle to beat West Brom @ 23/10
New customers can register here to claim their free £25 bet or click here to see all our Premier League odds.
Follow us at Twitter @bwinbetting