The FourFourTwo Preview: Swansea vs Newcastle
Pardew's last stand, until the next one.
- S’land 0-0 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 3-0 Everton (LC)
- Swansea 0-1 So’ton (Prem)
- Chelsea 4-2 Swansea (Prem)
- Swansea 3-0 WBA (Prem)
- Stoke 1-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Palace 2-3e Newcastle (LC)
- Newcastle 2-2 Hull (Prem)
- So’ton 4-0 Newcastle (Prem)
- Newcastle 3-3 Palace (Prem)
Aspirational August turned into a sorry September for Swansea.
One month brought three straight wins with only one goal conceded; the next, one point from nine and two blanks on the scoresheet.
Garry Monk can partly blame two successive red cards, but Angel Rangel's lateish dismissal at struggling Sunderland barely changed a bad game, while Wilfried Bony's bone-headed second yellow at home to Southampton exposed deeper worries.
With Monk unable or unwilling to change Swansea's formation via a Plan B, they operated without a centre-forward and without the ball as Saints piled up the passes around them, inevitably producing a fourth loss in the last eight home league games.
The Swans' tactics are easy on the eye but they don't surprise opponents, and they don't particularly bother them: they have had fewer touches in the opposition box than any other Premier League team this season.
Mind you, Alan Pardew wouldn't mind being fifth in the league. Consider the problems: only Burnley below them in the league; one win (and 10 losses) from the last 14 games; seething discontent in the stands; rampant speculation in the media; last season's best players a fading memory; a host of summer signings mostly wearing a what-have-I-got-myself-into facial expression.
The stats are gobsmackingly damning. Of the 17 ever-present Premier League sides in 2014, Newcastle have won the fewest points, scored the least and conceded the most. Maybe they'd be better away from the volatile St James' Park atmosphere? Nah: their last eight away games have yielded just one goal and one point. This, folks, is a Very Unsuccessful Team.
And so to Swansea, whom they've lost to the last four times, where they've only won once since King Keggy was in boots. Another road defeat, coupled with an imminent international break in which to find a replacement, might mean the end for Pardew – but balls-out brinksman Mike Ashley seems to be sticking with his man until it becomes obvious Newcastle face relegation. November?
Sweeping changes can indicate managerial boldness of monkeys flinging poop at a wall. According to one national rag, Pardew may replace £6 million signing Emmanuel Riviere with Papiss Cisse, drop Yoan Gouffran for, er, Gabriel Obertan, and favour Remy Cabella with a hard stare until he improves.
Rangel's red card and Dwight Tiendalli's careful recovery from a groin injury should mean Jazz Richards starts at right-back, perhaps alongside Funk Fernandez, Country Williams and Ambient Taylor.
With the international break imminent, Swans won't risk Leon Britton (knee), Douglas Hurd (home secretary) or Norman Tebbit (trade and industry).
Key battle: Nathan Dyer vs Paul Dummett
Few Newcastle players will be feeling the pain as much as local lad Dummett. Against Hull, the left-back contributed 10 clearances (second only to Curtis Davies) and contested an impressive 16 aerial duels as the Tigers sought to release Ahmed Elmohamady. But he will face a more ground-based threat from mini speedster Dyer, whose three goals in August temporarily hoisted Swansea to the top of the league.
LAST FIVE MEETINGS
- N’castle 1-2 Swans (PL, Apr 14)
- Swans 3-0 N’castle (PL, Dec 13)
- Swans 1-0 N’castle (PL, Mar 13)
- N’castle 1-2 Swans (PL, Nov 12)
- Swans 0-2 N’castle (PL, Apr 12)
Past ties to Southampton aside, they don't have much in common. One is the second-longest-serving manager in the top flight, the other's been in the job since February. One is very popular with the fans, the other is Pardew. Oh but hang on, Monk's middle name is Alan. And guess what Pardew's middle name is? That's right: Scott.
Facts and figures
- Rémy Cabella has created the most goalscoring chances without having assisted a Premier League goal this season (17).
- Newcastle have used as many French players in the Premier League this season as Ligue 1 sides PSG and Toulouse have so far in 2014/15 (6).
- Swansea have 11 players that have appeared in every Premier League game so far this season, more than any other side.
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Swansea win to nil, the size of victory decided by the earliness of the goal: if first-half, 3-0.