Newcastle United host Wigan Athletic this evening looking to end a run of four straight defeats and ease at least some of the pressure that has been building in recent weeks.
A miserable November has seen United perched worryingly close to the relegation zone, and with a tough run of fixtures to come over the festive period the time is now to start getting positive results.
Currently we sit in 14th position in the table and a win tonight won’t improve that, unless we win by seven clear goals which is unlikely. A win would however give us some breathing space and move us five points clear of the drop zone whilst a loss would see us drop one place allowing Wigan to leapfrog us. A nervy night at St James’ Park awaits.
Newcastle are once again without a whole host of players for the visit of Wigan. Yohan Cabaye, Shola Ameobi (both groin), Steven Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa (both hamstring) and Gabriel Obertan (toe) are perhaps the most notable absentees. They will be joined by long-term absentees Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling and Haris Vuckic on the sidelines.
James Perch will also miss the game tonight after picking up his fifth booking of the season against Stoke. A similar fate will await Cheik Tiote or Jonas Gutierrez should they be cautioned this evening as both have picked up four yellow cards already this term.
Wigan boss Roberto Martinez is not without his own injury problems though. Gary Caldwell and David Jones have been rated at “50-50” to feature tonight after picking up knocks recently but the Spaniard will definitely be without the services of Antolin Alcaraz, Albert Crusat, Ivan Ramis and Ben Watson.
It has to be pointed out that there isn’t exactly a lot of history between the two sides. There have been just 15 meetings between the two clubs in all competitions, most of them recently, with six wins each and three draws ensuring an even split of results.
However you can pretty much call this a “home” fixture as United have the upper hand at St James’ Park (seven games, four wins, three draws) whilst Wigan have the upper hand (eight games, six wins, two losses) at their ground. The corresponding fixture last season ended 1-0 to Newcastle with Yohan Cabaye scoring the winner.
Stats and facts:
As pointed out above, Wigan have never won at St James’ Park. Let’s hope tonight is not a first for them.
Roberto Martinez has a winning percentage of 27.78% during his time in charge at Wigan. Pardew’s United winning record stands at 38.64% currently.
Only Southampton and QPR have lost more games than Wigan this season whilst they (jointly with Aston Villa) have scored the least away goals in the entire league.
Three of Wigan’s four victories have come against promoted clubs. In contrast Newcastle have failed to win any of their three games against sides promoted last season.
Any fans expecting a flowing, attacking performance from United I dare say need to tone down their expectations. A win at all costs, no matter how scrappy, is what is important tonight. Confidence is low and the manner of the defeat at Stoke will have done nothing to help that so we need all hands to the pumps.
Wigan are most definitely a bogey side though. Perennial strugglers who always seem to up their game for us they will make it hard for us tonight. Do we have enough to beat them? Of course we do, but the same could have been said for other matches in recent weeks in which we’ve underperformed miserably.
I can’t call this one either way…
Howay the lads!
Date: Monday, 3rd December, 2012
Time: 8pm – Live on Sky
Venue: St James’ Park