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Michael Taylor 7th Aug 2009 - 15:50

Gambling on Newcastle...you must be mad

It's never nice to lose but when you're first up on BBC, dressed as lemons and don't have a manager then you have to have serious worries about pulling out a big result on opening day - that's what Newcastle fans may have to face up to as they travel to West Brom.

The 23/10 Magpies undeniably look completely un-backable after a pre-season that saw no incomings (including a manager), lots of outgoings and, most importantly, a 6-1 loss to the mighty Leyton Orient.

I mean I'm not usually the sort of person to pay attention to friendly results but, 6-1, against Leyton Orient - I thought the Sven Goran Eriksson news was unreal!

It's all a far cry from the optimism surrounding the club when King Kev made his Messiah like return just over a year ago.

Gone are Messrs Shearer, Owen, Martins, Bassong and Viduka and gone with those talents are their title ambitions and, in all likelihood, their chances of making even a little impression for the BBC cameras.

West Brom on the other hand are a whole different matter, even if lingering doubts over new manager Roberto Di Matteo do still have to be extinguished.

They've invested wisely in Simon Cox, who looks a decent bet at 6/1 to score the first goal of the game, while the importance of retaining Jonathan Greening could be the most pivotal moment of their season.

Chris Brunt, a great 5/1 shot to score anytime, gave momentary glimpses of class in the Premier League and Leon Barnett and Abdoulaye Meite should be far better than last season.

The big issue with the Baggies is how Di Matteo uses all the good work that Tony Mowbray put into the club.

His performance at the MK Dons hinted that he has the potential but, as Paul Ince found when stepping up to Blackburn, it's not always easy to produce when expectation is so high.

I do have more than enough faith though to make the 23/20 about a Baggies win one of my bets of the weekend - it's already in a couple of my accumulators.

As for Newcastle positives, the list is small at best.

Kevin Nolan has the ability to shine in the Championship while Damien Duff and Jonas Gutierrez have more than enough guile and experience to provide for the forward pairing.

The loss of Bassong to Tottenham could be devastating, especially after playing witness to the Fabricio Coloccini horror show last season, and it's hard to imagine Steve Harper will be celebrating a clean sheet on Saturday night.

However, Ameobi and Carroll will suffice up front in a league where top class strikers are at a premium - so goals can be expected.

With the Baggies forward line and Newcastle's defensive troubles you'd be mad not to think goals are on the cards and for this reason alone I'm drawn to the 18/1 about a 3-1 West Brom win.

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