As we edge closer to Christmas, West Brom travelled to Newcastle with the prospect of 3 points looking strong, with the Magpies having major COVID-19 problems the previous 2 weeks. Unfortunately, this wasn’t to be, as the Baggies fell to a 2-1 defeat.
Steve Bruce understandably oversold the weakness of his team in press conferences with his team being near full strength. West Brom continued with right winger Phillips at left wing-back and Krovinovic coming in to replace Pereira who is suspended amongst 3 changes.
Newcastle got off to a flying start, scoring after 21 seconds, even more impressive when you consider West Brom had kick off. Ivanovic easily outmuscled by Wilson allowed Joelinton to measure a pass into Almiron’s path, who had all the time in the world to pick out the corner due to Phillips being out of position.
West Brom were rocked for the following 25 or so minutes following this opening goal, and Newcastle looked threatening every time they went forward. Almiron once again doing well to dribble into the box off a Richie pass but his shot was at an easily saveable angle for Johnstone.
The last 10 minutes of the half saw West Brom put some pressure on the Newcastle goal, with Gallagher, once again performing head and shoulders above the other players on the pitch, having a shot just narrowly go off target. At the break Newcastle 1-0 West Brom.
The second half started the same way the first ended with West Brom putting on pressure, leading to a 51st minute breakthrough. Furlong doing exceptionally well to get on the end of a Phillips cross before Lewis could react and driving the ball into the corner. A good goal by a player who has been a rare shining light for West Brom this season so far.
West Brom continued performing well, the double change of Gibbs and Austin for Grant and Robinson at the break having its intended effect. Austin and Gallagher both having good half chances rebuffed. However, the game changed again when Gayle got subbed on by Newcastle.
West Brom fans will remember how good of a goal scorer Gayle is from his loan spell at the club, and he nearly demonstrated it straight away with a header cleared off of the line. The lessons of this near miss was not to be heeded though, with a lovely header crashing off the woodwork and in on the 84th minute to give Newcastle the win.
Another defeat for West Brom and another dreadful period of football, this time in the first half. Serious questions for Bilic, and with Villa on Sunday, Manchester City before then, it remains to be seen if he will still be in a job on Christmas Day.