Newcastle United-West Brom Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

West Bromwich Albion will be hoping that it's 10th-time lucky as they welcome Newcastle United to the Hawthorns on New Year's Day.

The Baggies (3-9-7) are without a manager and without a win since the start of November heading into 2014, but three draws over the Christmas week have given the club confidence of picking up a result against in-form Newcastle.

The Midlands club were involved in a sensational game on Sunday, twice coming from behind to draw 3-3 with West Ham. However, the game was overshadowed by the controversy surrounding Nicolas Anelka's 'quenelle' celebration, prompting caretaker boss Keith Downing to come out in support of the veteran Frenchman.

"He was categorically adamant that he didn't mean to cause any problems and I was led to believe that," said Downing, referring to the celebration that has anti-Semitic connotations in France but has been used in an act by French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala - a friend of Anelka's. "Obviously the last two days have been an education to realise what it was all about

"We've spoken to Nico and now the FA will look into it and the powers that be and we have to deal with that. He's aware of the issue. From football matters, I need to speak to Nico tomorrow and get a sort of feeling of how he's feeling about the last couple of days. There's a distraction to it and we'll have to obviously find out tomorrow how it all is."

Newcastle (10-3-6) were beaten 1-0 by Arsenal on Sunday to end what had been an excellent run through their festive fixtures. The Magpies had picked up 10 points from their four prior matches, with on-loan French striker Loic Remy prominent - leading to manager Alan Pardew calling for the player to be signed permanently in January.

"He has been terrific, he is a lovely young boy," said Pardew. "I think he has got great technical ability, and he is going to have a great career in the Premier League for sureā€¦ and hopefully with us. We feel we can sign him, we have the finance to do that, but of course probably at the end of the year, Loic and his agent and his representatives will decide where his future is.

"I do feel as you know, 50,000 Geordies, there is not a lot of clubs who can beat that. That's what I say to my players. They think the grass is greener, and we have lost some good players in this football club."

West Brom have injury doubts over Shane Long (calf) and Victor Anichebe (groin), while Newcastle have concerns over Jonas Gutierrez (calf).

The Baggies are without a win in nine, the club's longest winless streak since 2009.

Newcastle have won seven of their last 10 matches to shoot up the table into the European places. A win on Wednesday would be the Magpies' first run of three consecutive away wins since 2001.

Newcastle beat West Brom 2-1 when these teams met in November, with Moussa Sissoko netting the match-winner in the 57th minute, four minutes after Chris Brunt pulled the Baggies level. There were a combined 30 fouls in the match, but just two yellow cards.

The Magpies have won three of the last four meetings with West Brom, but have just one win from their last five visits to the Hawthorns in all competitions.

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