This match is going to bear little significance on the top and the bottom of the Premier League table, but it should be an entertaining fixture. Although Newcastle are in freefall, it would take an extraordinary sequence of events for them to be dragged into the bottom three, while Swansea are secure in mid table. This is a fixture that has held many happy memories for Swansea since gaining promotion to the Premier League and they will be keen to heap the pressure onto Newcastle, who are currently in the worst form in the league. As we approach a defining summer for Newcastle, the hosts could do a lot worse than looking at Saturday’s opponents as an example of how both managerial appointments and player recruitment should be done.
Newcastle have lost six matches on the bounce and John Carver will be keen to get back to winning ways as he tries to show he is capable of getting the job on a permanent basis. He has hinted that he may change the side’s style of play to be more direct, which could be effective against Swansea who like to dominate the ball. The Geordie is under pressure as a poll on a the Evening Chronicle’s website showed that 97% of Newcastle fans don’t want him in the post next season and rumours of Steve McClaren taking over are growing. The Derby manager is 1/8 with bookies to be the next Newcastle manager. It’s clear that the club needs a shake up both on the pitch and off it, and a new manager will be central to that, but to start with, Newcastle must consolidate their league position with some wins before the end of the campaign.
Swansea have had a good season and are on course for their best finish in the Premier League since their promotion in 2011. Garry Monk has had a superb first full campaign as a manager, which has seen him linked with other jobs including West Ham, but he looks set to continue the job he has started in South Wales. The sale of Wilfried Bony had threatened to end their season, but Swansea have continued in good form, with Bafetimbi Gomis starting to impress before his injury. They haven’t won either of their last two matches. However, they will see Saturday’s match as an opportunity to return to winning ways given their impressive record on Tyneside.
In their first meeting this season, the sides shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw. Wilfried Bony and Wayne Routledge scored for the home side, while a Papiss Cisse brace saw Newcastle take something from the game. In the match at St James’ Park last season, Swansea won the match 2-1, thanks to a brace from Bony. Shola Ameobi was the scorer for Newcastle that day. Swansea have won on their last two visits to Newcastle.
- Newcastle have lost their last sixth matches which is their joint second worst run in the Premier League. A loss on Saturday would mark it their worst run of results in the Premier League era.
- Swansea haven’t lost at St James’ Park since returning to the top flight, making it one of the happier hunting grounds for the Swans.
Remy Cabella was a long term target for Newcastle and the reported £12m fee highlights how crucial Graham Carr considered him to be for the future of the club. His opening season will go down as a disappointment, and he is in danger of becoming a flop unless things improve quickly. Sometimes foreign players take some time to adjust to the top flight, but Cabella is running out of time to prove he is good enough for Newcastle United. He must perform over the remaining weeks and show that he is the man to build the team around next season. Many hoped that he would come in and have a similar influence to Yohan Cabaye, but Cabella has only one goal and two assists to his name in what has been a very poor season. There is no doubt that the French international has plenty of talent and he has the potential to turn things around at Newcastle. There have been some matches in which he has looked unplayable. However, he has been ineffective on too many occasions. He will be pivotal this weekend as Newcastle need to start scoring goals and he is one of the few creative outlets in the side. His ability to beat defenders when dribbling with the ball could be key to finding a way through a resolute Swansea defensive line.
Jonjo Shelvey is a player who splits opinion as he has plenty of talent, but many doubt his ability to become a top player. His passing can be wayward, yet he has the quality to change matches with his contributions in the final third. He failed to make it at Liverpool due to his inconsistency. His game time at Swansea has helped him a lot and he is on the fringes of the England squad, but he needs to improve if he is to become a regular for his country. The midfielder will have hopes of playing Champions League football one day and that could happen if he continues to grow over the coming years. He is only 23 years old and his contribution of three goals and assists this season shows that he can contribute in the final third. Shelvey has often played well against Newcastle in the past and he will relish the opportunity to give a match winning performance this weekend. Tim Krul has shown in the past that he isn’t comfortable when facing shots from range, which Shelvey could target this weekend as he has one of the best shots from distance in the league.
Siem de Jong is set to play a part this weekend after a injury hit season in which he has only played 99 minutes in the league. Facundo Ferreyra could also make his debut in this match from the bench. Jonas Gutierrez will be involved after making peace with John Carver. Rolando Aarons and Paul Dummett are closing in on returns but both will be unavailable this weekend. Papiss Cisse and Moussa Sissoko are both suspended. Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote and Massadio Haidara are expected to miss the rest of the season.
Bafetimbi Gomis and Tom Carroll are both missing through injury and neither will return until May. Kyle Naughton is set to miss the rest of the season with an ankle injury.
I think Newcastle United are going to avoid setting a new record for successive defeats in the Premier League. The return of Siem de Jong will boost the players, while meeting a side who have little to play for could be a real positive. They have had a tough run of fixtures in recent weeks and they will view this home game as a must win. They have got over the worst of their injury problems and should have enough to beat Swansea. The visitors are lacking a goal threat without Bafetimbi Gomis and that could be their downfall this weekend.
Newcastle 1-0 Swansea City.