The FourFourTwo Preview: Newcastle vs Hull
A chance for ‘hapless Newcastle’ to hit the dizzy heights of the top four.
A rare air of calm has threatened to settle over St James’ Park, with a four-match unbeaten run on the pitch going some way to appease fans fuming with ongoing events off it. After a dismal opening weekend defeat at Manchester City and comical failure to hit the target against West Ham, Alan Pardew’s men have – largely thanks to Hatem Ben Arfa’s brilliance – roused themselves to take seven points from the last nine and risen to 8th place in the table.
- Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 1-0 Fulham (Prem)
- Morecambe 0-2 Newcastle (LC)
- Newcastle 0-0 West Ham (Prem)
- Man City 4-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Hull 1-1 Cardiff (Prem)
- Man City 2-0 Hull (Prem)
- Leyton Orient 0-1 Hull (LC)
- Hull 1-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Chelsea 2-0 Hull (Prem)
A late breakthrough at home to Fulham was followed by an impressive 2-1 victory at Aston Villa last time out, only their second away victory in the Premier League since they won 2-1 at Villa Park in January. And with Yohan Cabaye disciplined but now refocused following his flirtation with Arsenal, the outlook, for a change, is a tad more positive on Tyneside.
“There is a time to forgive and forget, and his performance at Villa will go some way to winning the fans back,” said Pardew on the previously wantaway midfielder. "I am not sure he has won everybody back, but I think over the coming weeks he will."
Hull may have only picked up four points from four games, but boss Steve Bruce has been encouraged by his side’s displays and his troops will go there encouraged by the fact that City have won at St James' Park on their last two visits (both in 2008/09).
Profligacy has proved costly in their last two outings, allowing Cardiff to earn a draw at the KC Stadium and Manchester City to register what on paper looked like a routine 2-0 win but in reality was anything but.
“Our Achilles heel in the Championship last year was 'can we score enough?',” said Bruce. "Certainly we've got really good players, and we've added to that, and you can see why we've come out of the Championship with the way we play. But we need to score.”
After two tough away openers at Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium, the Tigers will see this as a more realistic opportunity to register their first points on their travels, but they will need to pack their shooting boots and could do with Danny Graham finding his. The former Swansea and Sunderland striker has not netted a league goal since New Year’s Day and it showed against Cardiff.
Newcastle remain without the knee-knacked Ryan Taylor and Massadio Haidara and hamstrung Jonas Gutierrez and Gabriel Obertan, but Pardew has “for the first time, I would say, for a good 14 months real competition in almost every area because everybody happens to be fit." Hull will be missing captain Robert Koren for up to five weeks with a fractured foot but striker Yannick Sagbo returns from suspension.
Player to watch: Moussa Sissoko (Newcastle)
While Hatem Ben Arfa stole the headlines for his match-winning contributions against Fulham and Aston Villa, Moussa Sissoko has helped put in the ground work for his fellow Frenchman. The former Toulouse midfielder topped the charts for attacking third passes in both matches and was also comfortably the best passer at Villa Park last weekend, completing 57 of his 66 passes in the Toon’s 2-1 triumph.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Hull 1-1 Newcastle (Prem, Mar 09)
- Newcastle 0-1 Hull (FAC, Jan 09)
- Hull 0-0 Newcastle (FAC, Jan 09)
- Newcastle 1-2 Hull (Prem, Sep 08)
- Newcastle 2-0 Hull (LC, Oct 97)
Bruce has yet to get the better of Pardew in six previous meetings, which began back in 2001 when Pardew’s Reading overcame Bruce’s Wigan over two legs in the Division Two play-offs. The Londoner also came out on top in 2005/06 when West Ham did the double over Birmingham, while the pair have also faced off in two Tyne-Wear derbies at the Stadium of Light with a 1-1 draw preceding a 1-0 Newcastle win, both in 2011.
Facts and figures
- Hatem Ben Arfa has mustered more attempts from open play than any other Premier League player this season (13).
- Hull City have won on three of their last four visits to St James Park in all competitions (one defeat).
- Reformed badboy Cheik Tiote has picked up only one yellow card in his last nine Premier League appearances (after collecting 31 yellows and one red in his previous 67 apps).
- Hull have won only one of their last 11 games in the Premier League, drawing four and losing six.
- St James’ Park has only seen one league goal this season, only Goodison Park has seen as few.
- The Ameobi brothers (Shola and Sammy) are yet to record a shot on target this season in 206 minutes of play.
- Danny Graham has now gone 20 Premier League appearances without scoring, with his last league goal coming on January 1st.
- Newcastle haven’t won three Premier League games in succession since a spell of six on the spin in March-April 2012.
- The Magpies have kept clean sheets in their last two Premier League home games, but have also scored just one goal in their last five league games at St James Park.
- Since the start of last season, just two of the 46 Premier League goals scored by Newcastle players (excl. own goals) have been netted by Englishmen (Perch, Bigirimana).
Hull to find the net on their travels, but with Ben Arfa in the mood Newcastle can maintain the feelgood factor with a third consecutive league victory for the first time since April 2012. 2-1.
Newcastle vs Hull LIVE ANALYSIS with Stats Zone