The FourFourTwo Preview: Newcastle vs Norwich
Two sides who, having turned a corner, now have a chance to motor on.
Newcastle fans have been here before this season, thinking the Toon had found the right formula with wins over Fulham and Aston Villa, only to go and suffer a first-half shellacking at Everton and see Hull pick up what remains their only away points. But despite their derby defeat to Sunderland, Alan Pardew’s men now appear to be made of sterner stuff and return from the international break reinvigorated by wins, and clean sheets, against Chelsea and Spurs.
- Spurs 0-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-0 Chelsea (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-2e Man City (LC)
- S'land 2-1 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-2 Liverpool (Prem)
- Norwich 3-1 West Ham (Prem)
- Man City 7-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Man Utd 4-0 Norwich (LC)
- Norwich 0-0 Cardiff (Prem)
- Arsenal 4-1 Norwich (Prem)
"Keeping clean sheets against Chelsea and Spurs shows [Pardew] has found the right balance to keep it tight,” said defender Mike Williamson. “The gaffer's been searching for a mix that would give us some consistency and now the team's working well together."
United’s newfound solidity has coincided with maverick winger Hatem Ben Arfa being left out. The Frenchman’s flair was influential early in the campaign but his defensive deficiencies also left his side exposed at the back, and he is desperate for a recall against a Norwich outfit who should pose less of a threat going forward.
Chris Hughton returns to St James’ Park having come through his do-or-die date with West Ham, with his side showing considerable mettle having trailed at half-time to Sam Allardyce's men.
After scoring three goals in a league game for the first time this season, the Canaries could have done without a lengthy break between matches to halt the momentum gained from their second-half fightback. Nevertheless, they’ll travel north in confident mood, and both Hughton and Robert Snodgrass are hoping the 10-game unbeaten run that began at a similar stage of the campaign against Arsenal last year is around the corner again.
To do that, though, City will have to win away from home. It has happened only three times in Hughton’s 24 Premier League matches on the road, while Norwich have not triumphed at St James’ Park in six visits, their last coming in September 1988.
Newcastle defenders Paul Dummett and Steven Taylor have hamstring injuries, giving the latter more time to tweet; not necessarily a good thing after his 'bantz' with four of his Toon team-mates alerted the FA.
Norwich are still without the services of striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, while Alex Tettey and Elliott Bennett remain long-term absentees.
Player to watch: Loic Remy (Newcastle)
The QPR loanee is hitting his straps in a Newcastle shirt after scoring in both of the Toon’s notable triumphs over Chelsea and Spurs. The former Marseille forward now has seven goals in nine league games this season, taking the pressure off the misfiring Papiss Cisse who has yet to find his shooting boots in 2013/14.
Remy rained in seven attempts on goal against Chelsea, but was also willing to drop deeper and do the defensive work on his favoured left flank, making four ball recoveries on halfway.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- N'wich 0-0 N'castle (Prem, Jan 13)
- N'castle 1-0 N'wich (Prem, Sep 12)
- N'castle 1-0 N'wich (Prem. Mar 12)
- N'wich 4-2 N'castle (Prem, Dec 11)
- N'wich 2-1 N'castle (Prem, Apr 05)
Hughton ensured the Toon’s tenure in the second tier was a brief one in 2009/10 – winning the Championship with 102 points, 11 ahead of second place – only to be sacked six months later with Newcastle sitting 11th in the standings and replaced by Pardew.
Last season’s two meetings between the London-born bosses were low scoring; Pardew victorious in the north-east (1-0) before a stalemate at Carrow Road.
Facts and figures
- If Premier League matches ended at half-time, Norwich would be bottom of the league with six points.
More facts at FFT's Newcastle vs Norwich Stats Zone page
Tips and trends
- Newcastle have won 7 of their last 10 home matches against bottom-six teams, including W/W HT/FT double results in 6.
- There have been at least 3 goals in nine of Newcastle’s last 10 fixtures against bottom-six teams, and in 7 of Norwich’s last 10 against middle-third teams.
- Only Sunderland have a worse defensive record than Norwich this season. The Canaries have conceded 21 goals and 15 of those have come in their last 3 away fixtures.
Norwich have conceded first in 9 of their last 12 away matches against middle-third teams, losing 7 of their last 10.
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A third successive 1-0 win for Newcastle over Norwich at St James’ with the in-form Remy proving the difference as the Canaries’ front men still struggle to click.