Expect a tooth and claw affair, bereft of Xmas cheer as a bare bones Newcastle host the high flying Swans.
One of the big stories from the early stages
of the season was that Newcastle United, the entertaining/harmless club of
years gone by suddenly looked like a top six side. They were winning games and
grinding out results. At one point they had the joint best defence in the country and hadn’t lost a game all season.
Then came the big test with the “big three”; games away to Manchsters City and
United, followed by a home game against Chelsea. Many thought that these three
games would bring Newcastle’s run crashing to a halt, and they would be left
without a solitary point from those games. As it turned out they finished that
run with one point (and that was due to a refereeing mistake that gifted them a
penalty against Man Utd), but the Magpies did themselves proud in the first two
games and were “unlucky” when a refereeing decision went against them in their
match against Chelsea.
What was worse were the injuries they amassed in that
run. Their first game after the “big three” was a trip to Norwich where the
“formerly undefeated” Newcastle endured a one-sided 4-2 defeat that stretched
their squad and highlighted their defensive shortcomings. Newcastle United
faced Norwich without defenders Steven Taylor (likely to miss the rest of the
season with an injured Achilles tendon), Fabricio
Coloccini and Mike Williamson. Before Norwich Alan Pardew had been able to
field the same back five in each of the club's previous 14 league games. It was
that solid defensive foundation that saw Newcastle conceded just eight goals in
their first 11 games, they have now conceded 11 in their last four.
Possible green shoots of recovery
The good news for Newcastle is that Alan
Pardew hopes to be able to restore Coloccini and Cheick Tiote to his depleted
squad for the weekend's visit of Swansea. "I do really need some personnel
to get back. That would be nice," Pardew told the BBC, "I think
Coloccini will, and I am hoping Tiote does too." Rumour has it that Tiote
has flown home and enlisted the help of an Ivory Coast witchdoctor in a bid to
regain full fitness in time for the Swansea clash. With Newcastle’s injury
woes, it would have made more sense to fly the shaman to St James’ Park.
Magpies and Swans, hardly birds of a feather
Newcastle have only recorded one win in their
last five and that was a 2-1 home victory over Everton, and sportsbooks are offering the same result Saturday at 15/2. Swansea's recent form reads only slightly
better, as they have one win and two draws in their last five; however their last
game was an impressive 2-0 win over Fulham.
Swansea had a poor run of their own
(with one win in seven) to worry about ahead of their game at the Liberty
Stadium last weekend, but with goals from Scott Sinclair and Danny Graham in
the second half; and an excellent display from keeper Michel Vorm (who saved a
Clinton Dempsey penalty and sealed a seventh clean sheet), they took all three
points from the homesick London club, who have won just once away from home all
The soccer betting shops are offering tempting soccer odds of 20/1 on Swansea repeating that score
away from home against Newcastle. The match against Newcastle is not so do or
die, at least not for Swansea. Swansea are now 1/3 to be playing Premier League
football next season while Newcastle are
9/2 to manage a top six finish this term.
Newcastle will take heart from the fact that
Swansea are one of just two sides who have failed to record a win away from
home in the league this season (the other being relegation fodder Blackburn).
The Swans have drawn two and lost five of their seven away games this season, so maybe that elusive away win is due? You can add this to your soccer picks with odds of 7/2 if you think
Before you stick the Xmas bonus on
that result, remember that the Welsh side have scored just six times away from
home, yet they have conceded 18. Those numbers would suggest a 3-1 Newcastle win, which
is available at 12/1. Newcastle have scored 21 goals in
the Premier League this season and Demba
Ba is their top scorer, with 11 to his name, He’s at 7/2 to open the
scoring on Saturday (but don’t forget, that’s not an easy money bet, and he’s
still out there at 20/1 to win the season’s golden boot).
As things stand in the table, Newcastle
currently sit seventh, but despite plummeting out of the top four in recent
weeks they may take solace that the five point lead they have on a 8th
place Stoke represents the biggest margin between any two consecutive sides in
the Premier League table.
Newcastle does have just one home loss in their books
this season, and they can feel justifiably aggrieved by the manner that they
succumbed to Chelsea, that game was also the first home game the Magpies have
failed to score in since the season opener against Arsenal. You might want to
have a Geordie feelgood bet on Newcastle recording a resounding win; 4-0 is at
28/1, 4-1 is at 33/1 and any home win is at 4/5.
Swansea are in 11th
place, a full nine points behind Newcastle and while they seem to be sitting
comfortably mid-table, anybody with a basic understanding of maths can see that
they are just three points away from 17th place, which is just one spot above
the relegation zone. Neither side are in a position to spin the wheels and
coast into Christmas but I feel that Newcastle's home advantage, the bigger
names and the role that the crowd will play means Newcastle will edge this
game, but it won't be pretty.
Newcastle win 1-0 at 7/1.