Newcastle United will take on West Brom in the fifth round of the FA Cup on March 3rd, and a positive result in that game would fuel some new and much-needed motivation for the club.
It is interesting how quickly the narrative surrounding a club can change in England. Leading up to their game against Arsenal two weekends ago, Newcastle United were flying high after going unbeaten in four consecutive Premier League games, which included a win against Chelsea.
Fast-forward to today and Newcastle United have looked like the worst team in the Premier League over the last two weeks. The Magpies played well in the first half against Arsenal only to collapse and get thrashed 4-0 in the second half, and they allowed Crystal Palace to dominate the game this past Saturday as they claimed a 1-0 victory.
As a result of these poor performances, Newcastle United have been hit with plenty of criticism from fans and pundits, and they are setting themselves up to be dragged into the relegation battle. Fortunately for Steve Bruce’s side, Watford, West Ham, Aston Villa and Bournemouth are also struggling, so the Magpies are still seven points clear of 18th-placed West Ham despite losing two consecutive games.
That being said, the fact that Newcastle United are still in the FA Cup is a great thing, and the fact that the Magpies’ were drawn against yet another inferior side is an even greater blessing. Newcastle United have made it to the fifth round, but they fell asleep at the wheel in previous rounds as they had to play two League One opponents – Rochdale and Oxford United – twice.
West Brom, who currently claim the top spot in the Championship, will be the best team Newcastle United have faced in the tournament this season. However, it is worth mentioning that Slaven Bilic has hinted that his primary focus is on earning promotion and that he will not deploy his strongest lineup against Newcastle United.
Not only do the Magpies have to take advantage of this situation to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, but they must go out there and win to find the confidence they have been lacking in recent weeks. When looking at the team on paper, Newcastle United have plenty of talent in midfield and in defense, as well as a good balance of promising youngsters and veterans. Their main problem, however, has been inconsistency, especially against teams in the bottom half of the table.
A win against the Baggies at the Hawthorns would serve as a major boost of confidence for this team to secure their survival before they go up against Southampton (12th), Sheffield United (7th), Aston Villa (17th), Bournemouth (16th) and West Ham (18th), in that order.