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Preview: Magpies on the Road at The Hawthorns

The Magpies are the top of four teams sitting on 19 points. On the bottom of those four are the Throstles of Albion, which, if you're wondering, is a song bird, like the one on their emblem. Follow us past the jump for the full preview.

These fellow promotion season Baggies are a team not unlike our own lads. They've snagged wins away at Emirates and Everton, and at home have won against ManC(Carling Cup) and drew with ManU. On the other hand, they've also lost at home and away to Wigan, Fulham and Blackpool, while only forcing draws with West Ham and Bolton.

It seems as though they are struggling just as we are to find or re-find an identity in the Premiership. Here's hoping it takes them at least one more week than us, because this can be a dangerous game. On its face it would seem that we have all the tools it would take to beat this team, but that's just the kind of situation in which we've made a habit of finding a way to lose, isn't it?

Our side will have some sorting out to do with Colo and Willo still out and skipper Kevin Nolan out with an ankle bother, while Joey Barton will be back from his three game ban. The starting 11 should look something like this:

Simpson Saylor Sol Enrique
Barton Guthrie Tiote Jonas
Andy Shola

Reasons we win:

WBA have honed the skill of scoring away, having scored twelve on the road this year, so a key to this game will be whether or not Saylor and Sol can continue to shake off the rust and play like they did against Chelsea, which I think is altogether probable.

Score Early-
This Magpies side is markedly better when it scores the first goal, and I think that will continue to be a theme for the team as the season goes on. With Barton back in the lineup, I'd expect the crosses to Andy Carroll to start coming in early and continue often. If we can put one of the early chances in, which I think we can, this should be just the kind of match we can win.

Cheik Tiote-
Midfield control is such an important part of Premiership success. If Tiote is on his game, which he is much more often than he's not, then the midfield should be ours. If we can keep the Albion attack one dimensional then we give ourselves a better chance at the clean sheet and the win.

Reasons we lose:

Shola said it best this week when he said we have to start respecting these "other" sides as much as we respect the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea. If we don't, we could have another game which we will look back on in disappointment.

Not that it's been a major issue, but when we get behind in a game our passing goes to crap . If we do get behind in this game we have to keep our heads, especially in the passing game. When you're behind those giveaways can be so demoralizing to the side that's already feeling down.

Albion has been a side that makes the absolute most of its chances. In their win against Arsenal they only had seven shots and only five of those on target; three of those were goals. Arsenal poured on 12 SOG with only two finding the net. If Tim Krul isn't on the top of his game for every shot, he's likely to find himself digging the ball out of the net.

Prediction: NUFC 2-1 WBA