Tony Pulis' West Bromwich Albion will not make it easy for Newcastle United at St. James' Park when the two side's meet this afternoon.
The Baggies may already be safe from the drop, but John Carver's hosts have lost their last eight Premier League matches and slipped to 15th place in the table as a result, just two points above local rivals Sunderland, who lie third from bottom. A defeat here could see the Magpies fall dangerously close to the drop zone.
Following his letter to the fans, published on the club's official website, Newcastle captain Fabricio Coloccini will undoubtedly be doing his utmost to deliver a much-needed three-point haul. However, the Argentine and co. face a tough test against Pulis' well-disciplined West Brom, who find themselves in positive spirits following an unexpected victory at Old Trafford last weekend.
Key to the Baggies' hopes is Coloccini's opposite number, Joleon Lescott. Both central defenders are likely to play a pivotal role in their side's fortunes, but who is most likely to prevail? Below we take a look at this season's Opta Stats.
|Team||Aerial Duels Won per Game||Tackles Won per Game||Duel Success (%)||Interceptions per Game||Clearances per Game||Total Passes per Game||Pass Completion (%)||Defensive Errors per Game||Appearances|
|Joleon Lescott||West Brom||2.26||1.29||62.34||2.23||6.1||31.29||76||0.03||31|
The statistics are particularly divisive when it comes to analysing the duo's defensive performance. Lescott holds a clear superiority in terms of his aerial prowess, having won 2.26 headers per game - with a 62% success rate - while he also boasts an advantage when it comes to the number of interceptions and clearances recorded per appearance.
Coloccini is the superior player when it comes to tackling, while he has proved the more composed when in possession. The Newcastle skipper has maintained a cool head to complete 86% of his passes this season, while averaging just over 33 passes per appearance. This compares to the 76% success rate achieved by Lescott for the Baggies.
Neither centre-half has been particularly error prone this season, despite the pressure that each has faced at the bottom of the table. Nonetheless, the Baggies centre-back steals the plaudits in this key area, having made just 0.03 defensive mistakes per game; a marginal victory when compared to Coloccini's 0.07 per appearance.
Newcastle's form of late should rightly worry the club's fans, and the Baggies faithful will be expecting an 11th league victory of the season. Lescott has been an important figure for them since his arrival at the Hawthorns, with his experience proving a fantastic asset for Pulis' defensive-minded side. Expect the Englishman to outshine Coloccini and the Toon today.