The FourFourTwo Preview: Newcastle vs Swansea
A clash of two crisis clubs.
Beware the team that have nothing to play for. That’s what Garry Monk will be telling his Swansea charges as they go to Tyneside in search of a win – one of two the Jacks manager believes they need to be safe from relegation.
- Stoke 1-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-4 Man Utd (Prem)
- So'ton 4-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 0-3 Everton (Prem)
- Newcastle 1-0 Palace (Prem)
- Swansea 0-1 Chelsea (Prem)
- Hull 1-0 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 3-0 Norwich (Prem)
- Arsenal 2-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Everton 3-2 Swansea (Prem)
It’s a peculiarity of the Premier League that 13 points separate these two teams, yet it is the one fighting relegation who have scored more and conceded fewer this season. And, in theory, there couldn’t be a better time to play Newcastle.
Their manager is still banned from the touchline for that headbutt, they’ve lost their last four games without scoring a goal and talk of dressing-room bust-ups have been rife. Throw in the fact that the best finish fans can hope for is eighth and the worst 10th, and it’s with little wonder that minds have already drifted towards the summer.
Swansea, though, have problems of their own. Three points above the relegation zone – albeit with a far superior goal difference than their rivals – tells its own story, and despite moves to play down a six-man training-ground ‘brawl’ this week, it was obviously serious enough for the club to release an explanatory statement.
The South Wales side have, by all accounts, been playing better than their results suggest; just one win in nine but not a single defeat by more than one goal during that period. Narrow losses will be of little consolation if they go down, mind, and they haven’t won on the road since November. Then again, five of Newcastle’s six home defeats this season have come since Boxing Day.
It all makes for a tense, tetchy encounter.
Loic Remy could return for the first time since early March from a calf injury – how Newcastle have missed his goals. Right-back Mathieu Debuchy is also fit again after a groin injury, but midfielder Moussa Sissoko’s hamstring is unlikely to have healed in time.
Form, rather than fitness, has been Swansea’s problem, although the return of Michu following ankle trouble would be a timely boost. Defender Chico misses out after being sent off against Chelsea.
Key battle: Fabricio Coloccini vs Wilfried Bony
The Newcastle captain reportedly launched into a dressing-room rant at team-mates and his manager after the defeat to Stoke – but, although it shows he cares, perhaps he needs to look at his own performances first. Playing on the left of three centre-backs, he lost numerous aerial duels against Peter Crouch (see below, orange tents), despite winning plenty of possession on the ground.
He’ll have his hands full against target-man Bony, whose most eye-catching performance of the season arguably came at Anfield. As you can see from our graphic, he was dominant in the air against Liverpool and very direct when he had the goal in his sights. The Argentine will need to be back to his combative best to snuff out the danger posed by the Ivorian.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- Swans 3-0 N'castle (Prem, Dec 13)
- Swans 1-0 N'castle (Prem, Mar 13)
- N'castle 1-2 Swans (Prem, Nov 12)
- Swans 0-2 N'castle (Prem, Apr 12)
- N'castle 0-0 Swans (Prem, Dec 11)
Michael Laudrup was still in charge when Swansea won 3-0 at the Liberty in December, Newcastle’s only defeat in a run of eight league games. Alan Pardew had the Toon Army very much on his side at that point, but after 11 defeats in the last 16 games, they’ve been calling for his head for the first time, just a week before he’s due to return to the dugout from suspension.
Monk is unlikely to last beyond the end of the season, even if he keeps Swansea up, but recent comments about referees and opposing managers suggest he’s still feeling the pressure.
Facts and figures
- Remy has missed 9 of Newcastle’s 12 games since selling Yohan Cabaye and they’ve scored just 1 goal while losing to nil 8 times – they are unbeaten in the 3 matches he’s played in this time.
- Swansea have not won in 11 away games or in 11 trips to middle-third sides.
- Newcastle have won 10 of their last 15 home games against bottom-half teams.
- Newcastle have lost 6 of their last 8 home games but 5 of those defeats were against the top 7.
Best Bet: Newcastle @ 2.63
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A nervy, but entertaining, draw. 2-2.