The sun was shining brightly at The Hawthorns in celebration of the Premier League fixture between West Bromwich Albion and Newcastle United. The Magpies, however, seemed to take exception to the sun's attempts to steal center stage, finally playing up to the class that Newcastle supporters have felt was in the squad but just not making it onto the pitch for significant chunks of the season. Alan Pardew put out an unchanged lineup from the team that defeated Norwich 1-0 last Sunday, and it paid dividends from the word go.
Hatem Ben Arfa had to be an early contender for man of the match, finding the right passes, right position and scoring a beautiful goal on a perfectly executed counter-attack. It was a performance that is going to ask a lot of questions of Alan Pardew if Ryan Taylor comes right back into the side at the RM position when he returns to full health. As the minutes of on-pitch time pile up for Ba-Cisse-HBA, the understanding, creativity and execution continue to get exponentially better. (Dear Demba, there are rumors of a new contract offer on the table. Please sign it. Immediately.)
Anyone who would have predicted that Newcastle would continue to press to keep the pressure of of their shaky defense a) has not been watching Newcastle this season and b) would have been sorely sorely disappointed. Papiss Cisse had a chance early in the half to finish the hat trick and put Newcastle up 4-0, but he could not finish when 1 v. 1 with Ben Foster - and then Newcastle went ahead and gave up one of THOSE goals. The kind I mentioned in the match preview. Miscommunication between Williamson and Krul gifted WBA their only goal of the match, and not a single person who have watched Newcastle since Saylor's injury would have been surprised to concede in this manner.
The concern in the second half for Newcastle would gradually shift away from getting the result to keeping key players healthy. Captain Colo was taken off at halftime with a hamstring complaint that he tweaked in about the 39th minute or so. Papiss Cisse would follow Fabricio into the treatment room with what is being twittered as a severe cramp in both calves (please be well!)... and with WBA losing Morrison to injury as well (and having to finish the match with 10 men as they'd used all 3 subs), the match really went into a shell with neither side looking too interested in risking further injury.
HBA looked his phenomenal best today. Really question Pardew taking him off for Shola... especially when minutes later, Cisse went off on a stretcher.
Cisse scored his fourth and fifth in six matches.
Jonas was EVERYWHERE and did EVERYTHING today. Splendid effort for the man who took the armband when Colo left.
We managed to run away early and hide well enough not to be found.
50 points acheived, 1,002 PL points total and level on points with Chelsea in 5th place. Pretty decent weekend.