Why Siem de Jong must start for Newcastle against West Bromwich Albion

St James Park

The Dutch striker must play from the kick-off if Newcastle are to grab a crucial victory.

Newcastle host West Bromwich Albion this Saturday afternoon in what has become the biggest game in the club's season. Lingering only two points above the drop zone, the home side must win if they are to keep relegation rivals Sunderland, Hull, and Leicester at bay.

This victory is made all the more difficult given that the Toon have lost their last eight games, conceding 18 and scoring only four goals.

If they are to defeat West Brom, it will be a case of who can score more, given that the Magpies are bound to concede.

Step forward, Siem de Jong.

The Dutch number 10 has started only one Premier League game in an injury-ravaged debut season at St. James' Park but has returned to full fitness, coming off the bench against Swansea and Leicester City in recent weeks.

These cameo appearances have provided glimpses of de Jong’s talent, including a well-taken goal against the Swans.

His re-emergence has come at the perfect time for Newcastle with boss John Carver desperate for a fresh face to rejuvenate an out-of-sorts front line.

Whilst young talent Ayoze Pérez has performed admirably when called upon, fellow striker Emmanuel Rivière has yet to open up his goal scoring account in 19 Premier League outings.

The Frenchman showed signs of pace and power this season but poor finishing and reckless decisions (including his mind-boggling foul on Marcin Wasilewski, which led to Leicester’s penalty and consequent goal) mean he cannot be relied upon.

Top scorer, Papiss Cissé is now clear to return from a seven-match ban but poor physical fitness and niggling injuries leave the number 9 as an option from the bench at best.

Farcical loan signing Facundo Ferreyra has yet to play a game for the club whilst home-grown prospect, Adam Armstrong does not have the experience necessary at this decisive stage of the season.

In contrast, de Jong has both international and Champions League experience from his time at Ajax and his record of 57 goals in 168 league games for the Amsterdam club makes him the best option for this Saturday’s crunch game.

The 26-year-old has the ability both to score and create chances, something the wily Pérez will look to exploit should he start beside him. Not only that, but at 6' 1", De Jong is no slouch in the air and can knock the ball down for players around him to run on to.

A former captain of Ajax, and Newcastle's current vice-captain, the striker can hopefully bring both organisation and leadership to a fragile squad that lack confidence and fight, as recent games have demonstrated. With current captain Fabricio Coloccini struggling to hold his hand up, de Jong is the perfect candidate to step in.

It is vital that de Jong starts this Saturday if Newcastle are to make an encouraging start to the game. Any sign of an attack will get The Toon Army on their feet at St. James' Park, and the momentum comes from their voices.

Without de Jong, it may be another aimless and ultimately costly performance from a Newcastle side lacking not only a leader, but a game winner with the X-factor.

It is a decision that John Carver cannot afford to regret.

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