Newcastle have won their last three games, and look to continue that mini-surge this afternoon, when they visit a very good looking Swansea side at the Liberty Stadium.
In order to get that 5th place in the league and automatic qualification for the Europa League next season, Newcastle have to try to get as many wins as possible through the end of the season.
Draws are better than defeats but not by much much (one point) but it’s wins that could propel Newcastle to finish in the top five for the first time since 2004, when Bobby Robson was sacked, becasue 5th wasn’t good enough for then Chairman Freddy Shepherd.
Newcastle have an impressive 15 wins this season in their 31 games so far, and six away from home, and we are hoping that will be 7 away wins by 6:30 pm tonight.
We’ve also lost six games away compared to only two at home – to Chelsea and West Brom – and we avenged West Brom couple of weeks ago with that 3-1 win, and have a chance to do the same at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, 2nd May.
That could turn out to be a crucial match, and even decide whether we are in Europe next season.
But the only thing that matters right now is to somehow get 3 points today at the Liberty Stadium, and Swansea are a good side at home, and will be cheered on by a sold-out crowd.
Danny Guthrie is out injured, and we have no idea why we haven’t seen Gabby Obertan in any of the squads recently – is he injured?
Update on Obertan – the local papers are reporting today that Gabby is out injured and he will not return until the end of April, perhaps when we are at Wigan on April 28th.
Gabby will not make the game today, and with Ryan Taylor fit again, we think he could go in at left-back and Jonas could go back on the left wing, and a position he is more comfortable with.
Newcastle can still play the 4-3-3 formations as follows:
Simpson Perch Willaimsons Taylor (R)
Cabaye Tiote Gutierrez (c)
Ben Arfa Ciosse Demba Ba
Subs: Elliot Santon Tavernier Ferguson Abeid Gosling Ameobi (Sh)
We expect 20 year-old defender James Tavernier to be on the bench, and he was recalled this week from his loan spell at MK Dons, and Haris Vuckic is not available for this game, or the game at home to Bolton on Monday, with a knee problem.
And of course Newcastle captain Coloccini will not play today, but he could be back for the Bolton game, having seemingly recovered well from his hamstring strain.
Newcastle have not played in South Wales for over 50 years, and this will be our first visit there since the 3-2 loss to Cardiff City at Ninian Park in February of 1961, and that’s the season I remember all too well.
I was playing for the Newcastle U18s at the time in my first season at St. James’ Park, and still at school and 16 years-old, and Newcastle were relegated from the then First Division under then manager Charlie Mitten (he was hopeless), although we had finished 8th the previous season.
Oh well – so much for a bad memory, although two 16 year-olds played in that same U18 side – Scottish schoolboys right half Bobby Moncur and Irish schoolboys right-back David Craig, and a certain Alan Suddick (“Sooty”) was on the left wing.
Back to today’s game – and Swansea held us 0-0 at home on 17th December, so it would be great if we could pick up 4 points against the Swans this season.
We will have to hope that Perch and Williamson will again be in fine form at the back, and that Ben Arfa, Ba and Cisse can make quick breaks and score some goals. And we’ll also need to be patient because Swansea will have most of the possession as they play a game similar to that of Barcelona – but they’re not as good as the European Champions!
I’ve been asked to predict the scores in these previews – but I don’t want to do that – because it will put a curse on the lads – belive me.
But I’ll try a poll and see what we think we can do this afternoon, against what is a very good Swansea side.
3 points this afternoon will put us up to a fantastic 56 points with 6 games still to play, and we’d be absolutely delighted with that.
And then we would have to crush Bolton on Monday afternoon at St. James Park. 😀
Howay The Lads!!