These two clubs are both facing huge summers ahead, but for very different reasons. It looks likely that Newcastle will be undergoing a huge recruitment drive to freshen up the squad and add some real quality that they have been lacking since January. The main question on Tyneside is whether Alan Pardew will oversee that, or if he will be replaced in the close season. His future is very unclear at the moment and another two losses would probably seal his fate.
Meanwhile Cardiff look like they are heading back to the Championship after a poor season, mainly due to the erratic actions of owner Vincent Tan. They looked good early in the season, but the dismissal of Malky Mackay looks to be a poor one which has led to their fall into the relegation zone. The Welsh club need to get two positive results in their remaining matches and that looks to be a tough task given they are facing Chelsea on the final day.
Newcastle United will reflect on this season as an opportunity missed as they were in touching distance on the Champions League places at the turn of the year, but the lack of ambition in January finished their season there and then. Some people in the media have removed blame from Pardew, due to the sale of Yohan Cabaye, but their record in 2014 makes it very hard to ignore the manager. They have lost their last six games, which is unacceptable, scoring one and conceding seventeen. The stats make it very hard to comprehend a situation that sees Alan Pardew remain in his job over the summer, but Mike Ashley is a very difficult man to second guess.
Cardiff are bottom of the table currently and a loss on Saturday could see them relegated if results don’t go their way, but the will be confident going up against the league’s worst team on current form. The Welsh side have only won once in their last seven games, which may see them devoid of confidence causing a nervousness in their performance. However, if Newcastle repeat the lack of effort they showed at the Emirates on Monday, Cardiff should be able to pick up the three points. This match is a must win for Cardiff, but they couldn’t have selected a better opponent for such a game.
In their previous league meeting, Newcastle ran out 2-1 winners in Wales, with Loic Remy scoring twice, before Peter Odemwingie grabbed a consolation. They met again this season in the FA Cup, which happened to be Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match in charge and his side beat Newcastle 2-1 at St James’ Park, a result which will give Cardiff confidence this weekend. On that day Craig Noone and Frazier Campbell scored the goals for Cardiff, while Papiss Cisse scored for Newcastle.
Newcastle have failed to score in 13 of their last 18 matches, which is an incredible record for a Premier League side. Their need for attacking players in the summer is obvious.
Cardiff have the joint fewest wins in the Premier League with West Brom. This highlights the problems Cardiff have had this season. West Brom have managed to avoid defeat more often than Cardiff, which makes their survival all but confirmed.
Newcastle have relied heavily on Loic Remy this season, which is a worry considering he is likely to be playing elsewhere next campaign. He has shown that he has the quality to be a consistent goal scorer in the Premier League, scoring 13 goals so far, which is impressive after he has missed parts of the season through injury. Newcastle have only scored once when the Frenchman hasn’t been in the side, highlighting his influence on the side.
There are worries from some sections of the Newcastle support that the striker is no longer committed to the club, instead focusing on the World Cup and his next career move, but a goal or two before the close of the season could be crucial for him. His direct style of play when running with the ball and his pace will cause Cardiff plenty of problems, like it did in Wales.
Fraizer Campbell has been Cardiff’s main striker this season, but he has only six goals to his name, which is surprising as he has the attributes to be a good Premier League striker.
The main issue is that he struggles to lead the line on his own, which he has been required to do often this season. Cardiff may be best playing him in a 4-4-2 alongside Kenwyne Jones, as the former Stoke striker can be physical and dominate in the air, while Campbell can do what he does best and make runs behind the opposition defence. His shooting accuracy is good at 45%, but he will be disappointed to have missed 9 of his 13 clear cut chances as he is regarded as a proven finisher. He scored the winner at St James’ Park in the FA Cup and he will be keen to do the same this weekend.
Hatem Ben Arfa has been training with the reserves as his spat with Pardew continues, therefore he is unlikely to feature despite being fit. Ryan Taylor has returned to training after missing two seasons with injury, but he won’t be risked until next season. Papiss Cisse also won’t feature until next season as he continues to receive treatment for a broken kneecap. Luuk de Jong is back this weekend, but Sammy Ameobi and Davide Santon are expected to miss out again.
Anthony Taylor is a doubt with a knock, while Craig Noone will not return until the final day of the season, therefore there will not be a repeat of the wondergoal he scored in the FA Cup this weekend. Mark Hudson is the other player to miss out through injury. It is unknown whether Solskjaer will make changes after a disastrous result at Sunderland, in which Juan Cala was sent off, so he will be suspended this weekend.
Newcastle have been awful in recent weeks and I expect more of the same this weekend. This match is going to play a big role in determining the future of Alan Pardew, but the players haven’t looked up for it recently, therefore I expect Cardiff to take the three points. The Welsh club haven’t been great themselves, but the players are certainly committed to the cause and they know they have to win this weekend.