Clash of the Titans: Allardyce welcomes Bruce
I will be back on my ‘let’s all oppose West Brom’ horse this weekend when they welcome fellow strugglers Newcastle United. Steve Bruce’s men have really struggled since the turn of the year with injuries to the now returned Allan Saint-Maximin and now absent Callum Wilson hugely negatively affecting their attacking output. West Bromwich Albion were extremely fortunate to earn a 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in their last match, to which the Seagulls missed twice from 12 yards and had a goal ruled out sparking major controversy. My stance on West Brom has not changed, they are the worst team in the division and that I have seen in the topflight for some years.
Both of these sides are poor, the Magpies have scored 27 goals from 28.7 expected, ranking 15th for both measures. The explosive pace of Miguel Almiron could be crucial in producing some incision between the gaps of the Baggies’ low block, along with the creativity of Scotland international Ryan Fraser, for me Bruce’s men boast the stronger attacking contingent. They have conceded the second most in the league, 44 only West Brom have let in more, but that figure has come from 42.1 expected goals which ranks them 16th for expected goals against. The Magpies also typically operate in a low block so it will be interesting to see which side tries to avoid possession the most, they both prefer to be reactive in terms of their tactical strategy.
I always trot out how poor West Brom’s expected goals data is so let’s leave that for this article, just take it that they are the worst in the division. They are nine points from safety with 12 matches left, so ultimately this is a must win game, particularly as it would cut the gap to six points from the visitors. Sam Allardyce may have to break out of his shell somewhat and commit more men forward if they are to breach the Magpies backline, a draw would not be too bad for Newcastle.
I try to avoid small goal lines because of the variance of football, goals can come from anywhere and therefore the margins and prices are too short for me to get involved. To give an estimate, I think there will be one goal in this fixture.
- West Brom have scored in seven of 10.
- West Brom have conceded in eight of 10.
- West Brom have seen both teams score in six of 10.
- West Brom have seen over 2.5 goals in six of 10.
- Newcastle have scored in six of 10.
- Newcastle have scored in nine of 10.
- Newcastle have seen both teams score in five of 10.
- Newcastle have seen over 2.5 goals in five of 10.
It is clash of the titans, for me Allardyce is a better thinker, but Bruce has much more talent at his disposal and that will cost the Baggies. The hosts also play on Thursday at home to Everton, giving the Magpies longer to prepare.