Newcastle - WBA

After 24 rounds played, Newcastle have established themselves as the most serious contender for direct promotion. Although they have four draws in last six competitive games, The Toon look like a class above the rivals in second tier. At home have 9 wins and 3 draws, while defense line with Collocini and Taylor looks unbreakable as Newcastle have conceded just four goals in those nine. In 2010. they had two Cup games against Plymouth where Chris Hughton has mixed the team. Tonight will have almost all players available and fully fit. Peter Lovenkrands returned to Denmark following a family bereavement, while midfielder Joey Barton (foot) remains the only player on the injury list. Alan Smith has recovered from an eye injury and should start.


WBA are the best on the road side in Championship, they have six wins, four draws and just a single defeat. But despite positive results so far, team looks more vulnerable than usual playing in a hot-cold manner. They lost second place that guarantees a promotion after being trashed at home against direct opponent Nottingam Forest (1-3). They’ve lost sharpness lately, performing too soft sometimes, while manager Roberto Di Mateo looks like he can not handle the pressure making tactical mistakes during the game sometimes. However, big boost for the Baggies is recovering of their key man on the pitch, Chris Brunt who is back from illness, while defender Gianni Zuiverloon has overcome an ankle injury. Very important player, striker Ishmael Miller should start from the bench as he continues his comeback from a lengthy absence from a knee injury. On the other hand, Di Mateo will miss defender Abdoulaye Méïté who is on African Cup of Nations. WBA have picked up a total of one point from their last eight visits to St James' Park and have won there only once in 42 years.


Newcastle usually look effortless, they’re the strongest team in the league and are major favorite to finish first. Tonight will be fully motivated as a win against WBA would seal them to the top. For visitors, this game comes in the worst possible time as they suffered a heavy defeat in last round and Di Mateo has a difficult task to raise the team spirit, but I don't think they can stop the hosts. Odds have been decreasing, currently the best offer Pinnacle 2.04. Home win. And because this is a derby game, I suggest a gamble 1-1 ht/ft.


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