Newcastle United travel deep into Wales tomorrow where they will make only their third ever visit to Swansea City’s Liberty Stadium.
We’ve not done too badly on our previous two trips to the Liberty, with a 1-1 draw being registered in the Championship followed up with a 2-0 victory there last season.
However Swansea are a tough nut to crack these days, arguably tougher than they have ever been. They’ve recently won their first major trophy in the shape of the League Cup and Michael Laudrup has installed a “tough to beat” mentality whilst retaining the attractive passing game that was started by Robert Martinez. Aided by the goalscoring exploits of Michu, who is joint 3rd highest league goalscorer this term, Swansea go in search of a first league double over United since 1980.
Hatem Ben Arfa may only feature in a cameo role after Alan Pardew revealed that he is less than impressed with the physical condition of the Frenchman. The original five week estimate of Tim Krul’s absence appears to be true so Rob Elliot will continue in goal with youngster Jak Alnwick deputising in the absence of the injured Steve Harper.
Fabricio Coloccini is officially doubtful after injuring his back against Southampton although it’s since transpired that the injury could be worse than first feared and we could be without Colo for a matter of weeks rather than days.
Ryan Taylor and Dan Gosling are nearing their comebacks, with the former eyeing a return against Southampton and the latter making an appearance on the bench for the recent Europa League match against Metalist Kharkiv.
Shane Ferguson and Sammy Ameobi are now both out on loan to Birmingham and Middlesbrough respectively so are obviously unavailable, and they are likely to be joined by other youngsters going out on loan in the near future.
Neil Taylor and Chico Flores are missing for Michael Laudrup who otherwise has a full squad to choose from for the visit of the Magpies.
As mentioned earlier, Swansea are looking for a league double over United after their 2-1 victory at St James’ Park earlier on in the season. However United historically have the better record home and away against the Welsh side.
There have been 32 games played between the two sides in all competitions with Newcastle coming out on top on 19 occasions compared to just 9 for Swansea. There have been 4 draws between the two sides.
At Swansea (Liberty Stadium and previously at Vetch Field) there have been 15 matches played between the two sides. Newcastle have won 9, Swansea have won 5 with the the one remaining game ending in a draw. However despite the one-sided nature of results between the two in Swansea, both teams have scored exactly the same amount of goals against each other (23) at a rate of 1.53 goals per game.
Stats and facts:
Mike Williamson could make his 100th appearance for United, assuming he makes the bench in the place of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa who will more than likely replace Fabricio Coloccini in the starting line up.
Gabriel Obertan could make his 50th career Premier League appearance.
Much has been made of Papiss Cisse being offside “all the time” but he isn’t the worst culprit in the league. The Senegal striker is caught offside an average of 1.1 times per game. Christian Benteke is the worst offside offender in the league getting caught out an average of 1.7 times per game.
Swansea have not lost a game after taking the lead this season. In fact they’ve only dropped the three points once by drawing one solitary game after taking the lead.
United have lost twice in the last eight games in all competitions while Swansea have won just three times in their last 12 league games.
We’ve looked a lot better in recent weeks and the gap between us and the teams at the bottom of the table is slowly getting bigger. However Swansea will give us a thorough examination and we’ll need to be up for it if we want to continue our upwards momentum.
Will Swansea have a hangover from their League Cup win? Will that victory spur them on and give them some extra impetus? I’m hoping it is the former but I somehow don’t think Brain Laudrup will allow it and we may struggle to come away with a point, which personally I’d be delighted with.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 2nd March, 2013
Venue: Liberty Stadium