Premier League | St James' Park | Sat 20 Sep | 3pm
Headbutts! Protests! Hatem Ben Arfa! Well, not Hatem Ben Arfa, but headbutts! Protests! And maybe some football!
- So’ton 4-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 3-3 Palace (Prem)
- Gillingham 0-1 Newcastle (LC)
- Villa 0-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-2 Man City (Prem)
- Hull 2-2 West Ham (Prem)
- Villa 2-1 Hull (Prem)
- Hull 2-1 Lokeren (EL)
- Hull 1-1 Stoke (Prem)
- Lokeren 1-0 Hull (EL)
On paper this is just a meeting between two North East teams aiming for mid-table, but on another, more detailed piece of paper, it’s so much more. For a start, there’s the promise of Round Two in Alan Pardew’s forehead vs David Meyler’s face.
And seeing as Meyler has been a substitute in every one of Hull’s league games so far, the pair will be in close proximity – though possibly not as close as last time.
Meanwhile, City loanee Ben Arfa won’t be playing against his parent club but manager Steve Bruce may be facing his next one. The 53-year-old (Bruce, not Ben Arfa) has been tipped to replace the under-fire Pardew at St James’ Park, something he finds “very disrespectful”. By that he means disrespectful to Pardew, not himself: Bruce isn’t saying Newcastle are beneath him. We think.
Next, we have the backdrop of Hull owner Assem Allam allegedly threatening to sell the club if he isn’t allowed to call them The Extra-Special Sparkle Tigers. Bruce has defended his boss, accusing critics of wrongly portraying long-term local boy Allam as a “foreign owner coming in and wanting to change things”.
And then, of course, there’s the real battle: Newcastle United fans vs Newcastle United.
The bad blood between the club’s support and hierarchy became further infected when assistant John Carver reacted unkindly to a banner – made from what must be the city’s last remaining bed sheet – screaming ‘PARDEW OUT’ in a protest arranged by SackPardew.com, a surprisingly professional website for what is essentially a hatchet job.
Depending whether you believe the fans or his own non-apology, Carver either unleashed a volley of swearwords or requested the banner’s removal only to be met with abuse himself. One supporter accepted Carver’s apparent request to “go to the training ground and discuss it like men” (go feminism!) only to be turned away, bemoaning the loss of a morning’s earnings which, to be frank, is his own stupid fault.
Besides, Carver’s exact words haven’t been caught on video, so we can’t rule out the possibility that he was shouting “I DISAGREE WITH YOUR VIEWPOINT BUT HAVE TAKEN YOUR CONCERNS ON BOARD.”
Anyway, back to on-pitch matters, as there might be some football played in this match. The Tigers are prepared to maul the miserable Magpies: they’ve scored in eight of their last nine away games and Newcastle, the lowest-scoring Premier League team of 2014, haven’t beaten them at home in the league since 1990, though admittedly they’ve only had four opportunities since then. Is this Pardew’s last stand?
Ben Arfa is ineligible for Hull, and poor old Robert Snodgrass is such a long-term absentee with a season-ending dislocated kneecap (argh!) that we should really stop bringing it up.
Newcastle are missing Siem de Jong (thigh), Papiss Cisse (knee), Davide Santon (other knee), Ryan Taylor (third knee) and 18-year-old Rolando Aarons (hamstring).
Player to watch: Abel Hernandez (Hull)
Hernandez introduced himself to his new club with a goal in a Monday night clash with West Ham that saw a ridiculous number of debutants on both teams (seven in all, five of them coming off the bench). The Uruguayan showed his aerial prowess with a fine headed finish, and doesn’t mind cracking off a shot from distance either. He and Nikica Jelavic occupied similar spaces against the Hammers (see the player influence map below) so Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson must keep them both marked through constant communication – if they can hear each other over the boos.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Hull 1-4 N'castle (PL, Mar 14)
- N'castle 2-3 Hull (PL, Sep 13)
- Hull 1-1 N'castle (PL, Mar 09)
- N'castle 0-1 Hull (FAC, Jan 09)
- Hull 0-0 N'castle (FAC, Jan 09)
Pardew has issued a crying rally – sorry, a rallying cry – and says he’s concerned about a lack of goals in the side. That’s unsurprising, seeing as Newcastle have drawn a blank in three of their four league games. With Cisse injured and Facundo Ferreyra – supposedly recommended by captain Coloccini against Pardew’s better judgement (if that exists) – failing to impress even in the reserves, striking options are limited to goalshy Emmanuel Riviere and Ayoze Perez, signed from second-tier Tenerife.
Bruce has urged Hull fans to get behind their team instead of attacking the owner, which is fitting given their opposition at the weekend. Can’t we all just get along?
Facts and figures
- 0 of the last 6 competitive meetings between Hull and Newcastle have ended as a home win (4 away wins and 2 draws).
- Hull are just 1 of 5 teams to score in all 4 of their games this season (along with Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Swansea).
- Hull have made more clearances than any other side in the Premier League this season (186).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Six years and a week ago, Hull won 2-1 at St James’ Park as protesting Newcastle fans demanded Mike Ashley’s resignation. Expect the exact same thing to happen here, minus Xisco scoring on his debut.
Back 1-2 at 12/1 with Bet365. Odds right at time of publication