Newcastle United vs. West Bromwich Albion: 6 Things We Learned
A stunning second-half strike from Moussa Sissoko turned out to be the winner after Baggies midfielder Chris Brunt had cancelled out Yoan Gouffran’s opener.
The result lifted the Toon up to fifth in the Premier League table, as Alan Pardew’s men enjoyed a 100 per cent record in November.
So as the dust settles on a month to remember for the Magpies, we look at six things that were learned at St. James’ Park this weekend.
Shola Ameobi Is a Player Reborn
It hasn’t gone unnoticed—especially on Tyneside—that since his country qualified for the World Cup finals in Brazil next summer, Newcastle United striker Shola Ameobi has had a huge spring in his step.
The Nigerian international has been in imperious form of late, and against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, he was a constant thorn in the Baggies’ side.
Paired with Loic Remy up front, the 32-year-old was dominant in the air and dropped deep when he needed to, allowing the likes of Moussa Sissoko to get forward to great effect.
He’s had his critics in the past, but few can deny Ameobi’s importance to the Toon’s cause over their last few fixtures.
Newcastle United Signed the Wrong Amalfitano Brother
It was early July in 2012 that Romain Amalfitano put pen to paper on a three-year deal at Newcastle United. On Saturday, however, it was his big brother, Morgan, on show at St. James’ Park.
Amalfitano junior is now plying his trade in the second tier of French football on loan at Dijon, but it is his older sibling who has proved himself in the English top flight with West Brom.
The Baggies wide man was a constant threat against the Magpies and was directly involved in the build-up to his side’s equaliser, as his pinpoint cross found goalscorer Chris Brunt with a little help from Shane Long.
His temporary season-long move from Marseille has worked out well for Steve Clarke’s men, and a few more performances like the one against the Toon could prompt a more permanent arrangement.
Mike Williamson’s Stock Continues to Rise
Ever since centre-back Mike Williamson was reintroduced to the first team picture at Everton in September, Newcastle United’s defence has looked far more dependable.
And against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the former Wycombe Wanderers man once more proved how important he has become to manager Alan Pardew.
His considerable height and strength were put to great use in the closing stages at St. James’ Park as the Baggies searched for a way back into the contest.
A no-nonsense approach is exactly what the Magpies need at the back, and since his comeback two months ago, the Toon have lost just one of their last seven league games.
Moussa Sissoko Is Growing in Stature
Since bursting onto the Newcastle United scene in January with three goals in his first four league games, Moussa Sissoko has struggled with the hurly-burly of the Premier League.
Over the past few games, however, the Frenchman has displayed the kind of qualities that convinced the club to bring him to Tyneside in the first place.
Against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, the 24-year-old switched positions effortlessly and to great effect, roaming from his original berth on the right to support his forwards and his central midfielders.
And his shift was rewarded in sublime style with a stunning drive from distance in the second half that was worthy of winning any game of football anywhere in the world.
Shane Long Is Finding Form at Just the Right Time
It may be no coincidence, but Shane Long’s form is reaching a crescendo in the weeks leading up to the opening of January’s transfer window.
With his future still unclear, and with his contract due to expire at the end of the season, the Republic of Ireland international has rediscovered his scoring touch of late, and his timing couldn’t be better.
Though he failed to find the net at St. James’ Park against Newcastle United on Saturday, he was a constant threat to the Magpies and won the majority of his aerial duels in the Baggies’ attack.
According to Sky Sports, his manager, Steve Clarke, has no intention of selling his prize asset, but many more performances like the one on Tyneside could take the issue out of the West Brom boss’ hands.
Newcastle’s Team Spirit Is Growing Stronger by the Week
When Newcastle United’s Moussa Sissoko unleashed the thunderbolt that turned out to be the winner against West Bromwich Albion, it wasn’t his teammates on the pitch he ran to.
No, the Frenchman sprinted over to the Magpies bench and made a point of sharing his success with substitutes such as Vurnon Anita, Hatem Ben Arfa and Papiss Cisse.
In his post-match press conference, manager Alan Pardew hailed the strength and togetherness that exists in the dressing room at St. James’ Park.
And from their pre-match huddles and rapport with the crowd to their all-encompassing goal celebrations, the spirit that exists throughout the squad is in good health.