Newcastle appear to be thriving on the fact that they have Europe in their sights and a continuation of their recent form should see them reach their goal. The 03/04 season saw NUFC finish with 56 pts and that got them 5th, and the 01/02 season had them finish with 71 points which got them 4th; their 2 most significant finishes in recent years.
Newcastle took 4 points off Swansea in the Championship and the first time they met in England’s top flight brought about a bore 0-0 draw at SJP back in December 2011. The Swans are 1 of only 3 sides, along with Arsenal & Chelsea, to have prevented the Toon from scoring at home.
In Demba Ba (16) & Papiss Cisse (7), Newcastle have strike force that have notched 23 goals this campaign, but that is the same as Swansea’s Danny Graham (10), Scott Sinclair (7) & Gylfi Sigurdsson (6) have managed.
Swansea have lost their last 2 in a row, where NUFC have won their last 3 in a row, but the Mighty Mags have lost 6 of their 8 in the league this season away from home.
Only Stoke have less shots per game and less shots on target per game on average in the top flight than Swansea.
They have the best disciplinary record in the league – just 35 yellows and 2 reds all season so far, committing the least fouls per game on average – 8.5.
Only the two Manchester sides and Arsenal have a higher average possession in the Premier League – 56.8%.
Only the current top 2 in the division have a better pass success rate than the Swans – 85.2%.
Swansea have the worst aerial win rate per game in the entire league – just 6.4.
Only Blackburn produce less crosses per game on average in the Premier League than Swansea currently – 18.
Only City & Arsenal produce on average more short passes per game at present in the top division – 490. NUFC produce 330, the 13th best.
Swansea still initiate more attacks from the right hand side on average than any team in England’s top flight – 42%.
Only Blackburn spend more possession in their own half than Swansea – 31%, meaning they spend the least in the attacking half – 22%.
Keep an eye on…
Mark Gower – The relatively unknown Englishmen has created most chances for Swansea this season (36), the 11th best chance creator in the whole of the Premier League. Not surprisingly, he has most assists at the club too – 5.
Ashley Williams – The centre back is key to Swansea’s passing game, especially out from the back. He has made more total passes and passes in his own half than any other Swansea player and is the leagues 4th top ‘passer per game’. He makes most headed and total clearances at the club as well as winning possession in the defensive third more than any other ‘Swan’.
Scott Sinclair – The quick winger has been a revelation at Swansea this season. He’s produced most attempted and successful dribbles at the club in the Premier League, the 7th most frequent dribbler in the entire division. He also wins possession more than any other Swansea player in the attacking third and has had more shots than anyone else at the club.
To get 3 points…
Alan Pardew may look to change the system for this one. Newcastle can expect to have large periods without the ball, but without any intense pressure and a reversion to 4-4-2 will narrow the gaps in which Swansea will look to play.
Swansea wont ‘lump’ the ball in the box like recent opposition, they will look to play calmly through Newcastle’s units, but they will look to get Sinclair on the ball down that right hand side. Again, a reversion to 4-4-2 will give Jonas and such like more license to double up on Swansea’s wide attacks.
On the flip side, 4-4-3 makes NUFC extremely dangerous and there aren’t many better plying their trade at the moment than the Toon’s spearheads. Get the ball to them, in-between the Swans’ possession, and they will hurt!
A look at the chances created by Swansea’s opposition in their last 4 Premier League home games shows how they are vulnerable from the cross, particularly from the left hand side.
NUFC will need to work the ball into the final third and manufacture good, quality delivery to the box; Swansea’s defence are very competent in possession but aerially they are lacking.
Newcastle have been very hit and miss away from home in the league this season and if they are to continue their push for European, they will have to work hard, particularly behind the ball to get something out of this one.
Having said that, NUFC are arguably in their best purple patch to date, seeing off the last 3 opposition with impressive attacking prowess. Swansea will not want their good efforts this season to diminish at this stage and will be looking to get back on track with this home number. This one could go either way…
NUFC_Stats prediction: 1-1