Newcastle and Swansea face each other at St James’ Park this Saturday in what could be a match-up between two sides that have fared poorly in recent weeks, by their standards. The Welsh club has lost 4 of their last 6 games while Newcastle managed to win only 1 in their last 6, losing 5, that includes 4 consecutive defeats going into this fixture.
This game could mean a lot more to the visitors, as Swansea City is not guaranteed a place in the top flight next season yet, with 33 points on board – in footballing terms, that is 7 points less than the magic figure that more or less assures survival. A win for either side could be vital ahead of the run-in, with so few games to be played between now and the end of the season.
Pardew is under pressure after the last 17 games, which have brought only four wins and featured an FA Cup exit along with the sale of star-man Yohan Cabaye. With growing speculation and uncertainty surrounding his future at the club from north-east, 3 points from this game could calm things a bit even if that doesn’t affect the league table much.
Garry Monk’s Swansea City find themselves dragged into the relegation dogfight as they endured another home defeat against title contenders Chelsea, with defender Chico Flores red-carded as early as the 16th minute. Currently 15th in the top-flight, three points clear off the relegation zone, with four games remaining, a win at St.James’ Park could provide a massive boost to their survival hopes. A training ground bust-up between ‘certain’ players has been reported, which is not the first time that has happened at the Welsh club, in what has been a difficult campaign. But the manager has played down reports in his recent press conference stating,
“Yes, there were a couple of incidents between certain players, which the club does not condone yet understands, they were quickly dealt with and everyone moved on.”
- Loic Remy has been on the sidelines for the last 6 games in which Newcastle United have managed to score just 1 goal.
- Swansea City has never come from behind to win a game in this season so far.
- Newcastle United has lost 1 game from a winning position thereby dropping 3 points, from a winning position.
- Newcastle United have managed to score the first goal in 16 matches this season, winning 13 of them and losing only one.
Newcastle United : L W L L L L
Swansea City : L L D W L L
Newcastle United : Krul; Haidara, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon; Anita, Tiote, Gouffran, Gosling, Ben Arfa; Cisse (4-5-1)
Swansea City : Vorm; Rangel, Amat, Williams, Davies; Britton, Shelvey, Dyer, Hernandez, Routledge; Bony (4-5-1)
For the Toons, there are plenty of injury concerns as the likes of Sissoko, Remy, Debuchy, Obertan, Ryan Taylor, Sammy Ameobi are all sidelined due to respective injuries, while Davide Santon is doubtful for the clash and will undergo a late fitness test which is probably why the manager Alan Pardew said he missed almost ‘ten senior players’ for this clash.
However, Garry Monk’s side aren’t too much troubled by injuries. Chico Flores will be missing the match after being sent-off last week against Chelsea and Jordi Amat is expected to take his place. While, Tiendalli and Michu are the doubtful ones due to an illness and an ankle injury respectively.
Fabricio Coloccini – Newcastle United
Fabricio Coloccini, the skipper, has started 23 of 34 games this season and has been the best defender in Newcastle by quite some distance. If it were not for the untimely injury lay-off, Newcastle United would be better off defensively at the moment, as they have conceded 12 goals in the last 3 games alone. The Argentine has attempted a total of 36 tackles with an impressive 64% successful – the highest in the team. He’s made 57 interceptions and has won more than 50% of the aerial duels he’s involved in, which proves his versatility he can offer when fit. He’s provoked 31 offside decisions which is the highest in Newcastle, a testament to his ability to read the game a tad better than the rest. His fitness and presence at the back should provide a major boost to Newcastle’s chances of seeing this game out.
Wilfried Bony – Swansea City
Bony has been among the goals for Swansea City this season, having instantly taken up the goal-scoring mantle with Michu’s prolonged absence. Being his first season in the English top flight, he’s quite made a name for himself scoring 11 goals already, having started 23 games this season plus 7 other substitute appearances. Not just goals, he has showed his creative ability as well, having set-up 3 goals for a teammate. He’s created a total of 23 chances, including assists, which is approximately 1 per game. Top scorer in the team, he’s taken the most shots in the team (96), with 33 on target which is roughly 30% towards the net. His clear cut chance conversion stands just below 50% which is again the highest among his teammates. Every meaningful attacking move goes through this man and hence he holds the key to Swansea’s chances of claiming maximum points from this visit.
It’s a tough game to call when two teams having struggled so much in recent weeks, come against each other. A game of this ilk should be decided by the odd moment of brilliance or stupidity. Nonetheless this should be an interesting watch for the neutrals and I’m going with a 2-1 home win.
Newcastle United 2-1 Swansea City