The FourFourTwo Preview: Cardiff vs Newcastle
The game before Joe Kinnear takes over!
OK, so Alan Pardew’s position as Newcastle manager might not be quite that precarious yet, but the club’s fans have every right to be worried. Following back to back 3-2 defeats, first at home to Hull and then away to Everton, the Magpies’ early season form reflects a summer of comedy pronouncements from Joe Kinnear – remember Yohan Kebab? – and lethargy in the transfer market.
Both served to undermine the manager before a ball had been kicked. It’s of little surprise, then, that Alan Pardew’s side have endured an erratic start to the season, with those defeats preceded by wins over Fulham at home and, more impressively, Aston Villa away.
- Fulham 1-2 Cardiff (Prem)
- West Ham 3-2 Cardiff (LC)
- Cardiff 0-1 Spurs (Prem)
- Hull 1-1 Cardiff (Prem)
- Cardiff 0-0 Everton (Prem)
- Everton 3-2 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 2-0 Leeds (LC)
- Newcastle 2-3 Hull (Prem)
- Aston Villa 1-2 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 1-0 Fulham (Prem)
Having conceded 11 goals so far – only North East rivals Sunderland have a worse defensive record in the Premier League – the team’s main deficiency is obvious. While it’s easy to point the finger at the defence, particularly full-backs Davide Santon and Mathieu Debuchy, the back four often been exposed by a lack of cover from midfield, particularly from Cheick Tiote. If Newcastle can remedy this while cutting out individual errors – they’ve made a league high six mistakes resulting in a scoring chance for the opposition – they may be able to repeat their away day performance and victory against Villa.
Cardiff will be looking to continue their impressive start to life in the Premier League. Having dispatched Fulham last week with a last minute goal from Jordon Mutch, Malky Mackay says his side have what it takes to compete at this level.
It's hard to argue with this considering their early season form and the consistent attacking threat of Peter Whittingham’s set-pieces. At the back, David Marshall has proved to be an imposing and athletic last line of defence, while Gary Medel has been quietly efficient in midfield. Up front, Peter Odemwingie appears to have rediscovered the energy and trickery he first displayed at West Brom. Having only lost three of their 26 homes games in the league since the start of last season, The Bluebirds will be confident of maintaining this run.
Striker Andreas Cornelius could return for Cardiff following an ankle injury picked up against Accrington Stanley in the League Cup in August. For Newcastle, Jonas Gutierrez, Steven Taylor and Shola Ameobi, could return to the squad subject to fitness tests, while Yohan Cabaye should start following a groin injury that limited the Frenchman to 45 minutes against Everton.
Key battle: Gary Medel vs Yohan Cabaye
The key to this contest could be whether the Pitbull can effectively muzzle Yohan Cabaye. After coming on for the second half against Everton, the French midfielder scored after just six minutes and was central (quite literally) to a second half comeback that almost saw the Magpies snatch an unlikely point. As well as scoring, he had two blocked shots, as well as recovering the ball high up the pitch to set up attacks.
Against Fulham, Medel snarled and snapped his way to five successful tackles, recovering the ball 12 times. A repeat performance could set the platform for a home win.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Newcastle 5-1 Cardiff (Ch, Feb 10)
- Cardiff 0-1 Newcastle (Ch, Sep 09)
- Newcastle 3-1 Cardiff (Div 2, Feb 84)
- Cardiff 0-2 Newcastle (Div 2, Oct 83)
- Newcastle 2-1 Cardiff (Div 2, Feb 82)
Malky Mackay goes from heaping pressure on one under fire manager last week (Martin Jol), hoping to repeat the trick on Saturday.
If the rumour mill is to be believed – and as we all know, that’s a big if – Alan Pardew handed in his resignation following the defeat to Everton only for it to be rejected by owner Mike Ashley. Whether there are any truth to the whispers it’s unclear, what’s certain is that the Newcastle manager is in a precarious place: flanked by a talented but underperforming team and an unpredictable director of football and owner. Lose and who knows what will happen.
Facts and figures
- No side have seen more goals scored in the 90th minute or later of their Premier League games this season than Cardiff (3).
- Newcastle have won their last six successive meetings with Cardiff in all competitions.
- The Magpies have conceded a league-high three headed goals in the Premier League this season so far.
- Loïc Remy has now been involved in four goals in four Premier League appearances for Newcastle (scored three and assisted another).
- Newcastle have won just three of their last 23 Premier League away games, losing 13 of these matches.
- Cardiff have lost just three of their 26 home games in league competition since the start of 2012/13 (W16, D7).
- The Welsh side have committed only 50 fouls in their six Premier League games so far; a league-low figure.
- Papiss Demba Cisse has now gone 12 successive Premier League appearances without a goal for Newcastle.
- Should he score against his former side, Craig Bellamy will become the first player in the history of the Premier League to score for seven different clubs in the competition.
- Newcastle have made six errors that have led to an opposition attempt at goal in the Premier League this season; more than any other side.
The points are shared in an entertaining 2-2 draw. Stay there Joe (for now).