Newcastle head to Swansea today looking to keep up the pressure on the supposed big hitters ahead of them in the Premier League.
The Magpies are in fine form at the moment and are showing a real ruthless streak in what pundits call the business end of the season and go to Wales looking to record four wins in a row for the first time in six years at the Liberty Stadium.
Swansea will be a tough nut to crack however. I really don’t want to sound patronising or anything so I’m going to say that I’m not shocked that they’ve done well this season. I’m not a pundit who seems to believe the Premier League is the be all and end all. Remember, twelve months ago we were exactly the same kind of “surprise package” Swansea are now.
What the likes of us and Swansea have proved is that it is possible to win promotion to the Premier League and flourish. In fact there is a case to suggest that Swansea have impressed more than we did last year. Our performances were born from grit and determination whilst Swansea have earned nothing but effusive praise from many quarters for their possession football. It’s an exciting game in prospect, and one that has potential to be a great watch for both sets of fans as both appreciate the game being played the proper way.
Fabricio Coloccini, Leon Best, Sammy Ameobi, Sylvain Marveaux, Peter Lovenkrands and Steven Taylor all remain out, while Haris Vuckic and Danny Guthrie are sidelined after picking up knocks recently. The impressive James Perch is rated as doubtful although James Tavernier is in contention after being recalled from his loan spell at MK Dons. Gabriel Obertan’s whereabouts remains somewhat of a mystery however as nobody seems to know if anything is up with him or indeed where he actually is right now!
Brendan Rodgers has no new injury concerns ahead of the match and will be boosted by the availability of Stephen Caulker after the defender was forced to miss the game against Tottenham last weekend as a condition of his loan deal.
There isn’t much Premier League history between the two sides to look back on, with the 0-0 draw at St James’ Park being the only Premier League meeting between the two sides. However we have played them in the Championship recently and took four points off of them in that particular season.
Tactics and team selection
As mentioned earlier, Swansea are very adept at playing the ball and will pass and pass and pass looking for an opportunity to present itself. However, as pointed out by NUFC_stats, they have the second least attempts on goal in the whole Premier League so all of that possession doesn’t actually do a lot. It’s also worth noting that a good percentage of their possession is in their own half of the pitch, which is why players like Ashley Williams have stupidly high pass rates. I mean it’s easy to pass along the back four under no real pressure isn’t it?
That last bit is how they’ve been beaten in the last two league outings though, with Everton showing the way and giving other teams a clue as to how the Swans can be got at. Basically it’s pressure from the front, not allowing them any space and rushing them into making a mistake. With a front trio of Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Hatem Ben Arfa, we have players who will pressure and harass them.
It will be a front three aswell. We’ve won three on the bounce using that system so I personally see no reason to change things around.
Stats and facts
Our points tally is the best we’ve mustered at this stage of the season since 2003.
The Swans have the second best home defensive record in the league. They’ve conceded 12 goals at home, marginally worse than Manchester City’s 10 goals conceded at the Etihad.
If Swansea score first they probably won’t lose as Newcastle have failed to win a game in which they’ve gone behind in this season.
This is the 50th Premier League ground we’ve visited.
There is a tendency to look at other results and wonder about the permutations. For instance I’ve just been thinking about Sunderland beating Tottenham and what it could mean for us if we win etc etc. However it is pointless worrying about what other teams do as we just need to look after ourselves first and foremost and worry about others later.
It won’t be easy and I’d be reasonably happy if you offered me a point right now to be honest, but I said that before the West Brom and Liverpool games so… Basically if we turn up and do what we’ve been doing in recent weeks we have a chance of winning the match, and if we do that then we continue to have our own destiny in our own hands.
Howay the lads!
Date: Friday, 6th April, 2012
Time: 4:30pm – Live on Sky
Venue: The Liberty Stadium, Swansea