For the time being at least, the pressure has at least partially been lifted off of Alan Pardew’s shoulders.
Successive yet unexpected wins at home to Chelsea and away at Tottenham may have come as a rather welcome surprise, but it could also be argued that they were needed after the defeat to Sunderland.
However the real test for United is what happens next. With two home games coming up the pressure is on us to get results once more. No team has a divine right to beat another and it depends on how things pan put on the day, but being at home against Norwich and then West Brom means that the expectation is firmly on us to make things happen.
If we can live up to those expectations and win both matches we’ll have won all of our league games in November and will have 23 points on the board – a total we didn’t reach until the end of February last season, and only three pints worse off than the season in which we finished fifth and qualified for Europe!
Mathieu Debuchy will miss the match after picking up a fifth yellow card of the season against Tottenham. Ryan Taylor is definitely out whilst question marks remain over the availability of Paul Dummett. Other than that Alan Pardew has a full squad to choose from including Jonas Gutierrez and Fabricio Coloccini who are both available again.
Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Alexander Tettey, Elliott Bennett and Mark Bunn are all absent through injury although Anthony Pilkington appears to have overcome a hamstring problem and should be available to play should former Magpie manager Chris Hughton select him.
United managed to avoid defeat against the Canaries last season, winning 1-0 at St James’ Park and drawing 0-0 at Carrow Road. A win tomorrow would make it three home wins on the spin against Norwich, and this is a match that generally favours the home side.
This will be the 50th meeting in all competitions between the two sides. To date Newcastle have won 21, Norwich 14 with another 14 draws making up the numbers.
Stats and facts:
As this is a match between our former and current manager it’s only right to compare win ratios. IN the Premier League with Newcastle, Chris Hughton managed a win rate of 31.3% compared to Alan Pardew’s win rate of 37.6%.
Norwich have won only three away league games since Chris Hughton took charge.
Norwich haven’t won at St James’ Park since 1988 when Dale Gordon and Robert Fleck gave them a 2-0 victory.
Newcastle have scored more goals from outside the penalty area than any other side this season.
Loic Remy has scored 47% of our goals this season – a higher proportion than any other player for any team in the league.
We really should be looking to win this one. The momentum is with us after two impressive league victories and we have half a team who should be busting a gut trying to get into the France squad now they’ve assured qualification for the World Cup next year.
However this is Newcastle and that joie de vivre can easily disappear just as easily as it arrives, and this is the type of match we always seem to struggle with. Complacency needs to be avoided. With the greatest of respect to Norwich, you know that you need to be at the top of your game to get results against the likes of Chelsea and Tottenham, but this has potential to be one of those after the lords mayors show kind of affairs. I hope my concerns are unfounded.
Howay the lads!
Date: Saturday, 23rd November, 2013
Venue: St James’ Park