Swansea (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

This really is the definition of a six pointer. Win and we’ll go 9 points clear of bottom of the league Swansea, but go the other way and they’ll be just 3 points behind us all of a sudden.

These are the sort of games we’ll have to start winning at St James’ Park if we’re planning to avoid a stressful end to the season whereby relegation could look a real possibility.

Fortunately, we’ll be coming into this one with some much needed momentum. Our last league outing at home was a frustrating goalless draw with Brighton, but league wins at West Ham and Stoke either side of that and a much needed home win over Luton in the FA Cup last week sees us come into this one in good stead.

The frustrating thing is, Ashley’s incompetence off the field has threatened to see us lose some of the momentum we’ve recently gained ON the pitch because of his actions (or lack of them) OFF the pitch. The takeover appears to be stagnating and Rafa STILL doesn’t know his budget. A win today will put what matters into perspective – results on the pitch and 3 points closer to that magical 40 point mark – however another bad result at home in the league will send 52,000 away from St James’ feeling pretty concerned on several fronts.

A final point. Our home form and Swansea’s away form suggests something just might have to give today. We’ve won just one of our last SEVEN in the league at St James’ Park and Swansea have won just one of their last seven away from home. It’s worth noting that their one win did actually come in their last away game in the league – a late comeback in Carvalhal’s first game in charge – so it’ll be interesting to see if they slip into old habits today or actually show signs of newfound belief under the former Sheffield Wednesday boss (who did the double over Rafa last season for what it’s worth).

It’s a huge day at the bottom. West Brom (19th – 16pts) host Brighton (12th – 23pts) in a similar six pointer, as well as Watford vs Southampton in a battle of the free-fallers, Palace vs Burnley and Huddersfield vs West Ham – so there’ll be plenty of our ‘relegation rivals’ picking up points in some way or another.

Anyhow, all we can do is focus on ourselves and it’s in our hands to get the job done against the league’s lowest scorers in Swansea.

The Team

In net, Rafa has some big decisions to make. It seems obvious that he’d go with Darlow again after his match-winning performance in the away win at Stoke last time out, but this is the same goalkeeper who did cost us in recent home defeats to Leicester and Everton. Elliot is back in contention and is, for me, a safer pair of hands and a stronger character to deal with the St James’ Park crowd, but I couldn’t blame Benitez if he gave Darlow the nod again.

In defence, Lascelles is fortunately fit after being subbed off early against Luton as a precaution. He’ll partner Clark with Lejeune still out. In the full-back areas it I imagine we’ll see Dummett down the left (Rafa’s trusted lieutenant when fit and our only ‘natural’ left-back – even though he’s technically a centre-half!) and Yedlin down the right. The latter has picked up recently so hopefully we’ll see another switched on performance from the American. He just needs to watch for those diagonal balls over his head which he constantly seems to misread.

For me there’s only three players who should be in contention to start in the middle of the park. Merino, Shelvey and Diame. The latter may seem like a surprising suggestion, especially at home, but Mo’s put in several long overdue shifts across the festive period, putting himself about and making use of his presence in midfield. That being said, I’d like to see Shelvey and Merino start. The Spaniard has the legs and the tenacity to keep us competitive in the middle, whilst Jonjo is the sort who could be up for this one to get one over his former employers. Also, if you can’t get the best out of Jonjo Shelvey (or even trust him to start) against the side bottom of the league then it’s a bit of a concern. One player I don’t want to see starting in the middle is Isaac Hayden. I honestly can’t remember the last time he played well at St James’.

Out wide it’s a funny one. Murphy and Atsu have carried a far bigger threat in recent weeks than the industrious but ineffective Matt Ritchie. He’s huffing and puffing, but very little is coming off for the man that made us tick last season. Should he be dropped? It’s debatable, with character and commitment (which he has) likely to be so important in these sort of six pointers, however he hasn’t been showing that flair and spark that Murphy and Atsu have shown they’re capable of.

One man who looks set to start is Perez. He was a nuisance and scored the winner in a false 9 role at Stoke and followed that with two against Luton last weekend. His brace in the FA Cup wasn’t pretty, and his all round play was actually pretty poor all game, but it’s 3 goals in a week for him the Spaniard – a stat in itself that should give him confidence for this one.

With Mitrovic out and seemingly irrelevant when it comes to Rafa’s plans, It’ll then be Joselu or Gayle who plays alongside/ahead of him. Personally, I’d quite like to see Gayle and Perez tried together to help us become a little more dynamic and elusive in attack, but I imagine he’ll favour Joselu. He does put in 110%, challenge for every ball and do a lot of the dirty work so many overlook. That being said, goals in games and I’d back Gayle over him to find the net if given a game changing chance.

 

The Opposition

Ones to watch. A strange one to mention first, but Swansea fans tell me that goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianksi has been their stand out player this season. That perhaps sums up what sort of season they’re having, but let’s hope he doesn’t pull off a blinder to keep us out.

Tammy Abraham is an obvious one to mention (although he is a doubt). He’s got good movement, is a smart finisher and above all else, he was set to sign for us over the summer at one stage, so it’d be typical to see him bag to show Benitez just what he missed out on.

Centre-back Alfie Mawson will be one to watch from set pieces, and Wilfried Bony up top, with the Ivorian striker seemingly past his best, but still a powerful striker and clinical finisher on his day.

Remember how bad on-loan ‘wonderkid’ Renato Sanches was on his debut against us at the Liberty earlier on in the season? Will be interesting to see how he gets on if fit enough to start.

For an inside look into today’s opponents, take a look at this week’s edition of the ‘Opposition Opinion’ where I’ve been getting the thoughts of a Swansea fan prior to today’s fixture. Read it here.

 

Form

Newcastle – 13th (22 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 2 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 2

Swansea – 20th (16 pts) – Last 5 in the league – Won: 1 / Drawn: 1 / Lost: 3

 

Team news

Lascelles has been passed fit after limping off early against Luton last weekend, but Lejeune, Mitrovic and Gamez have all been ruled out by Rafa once again.

Elliot and Mbemba are back in contention after recovering from knocks.

For the visitors, Tammy Abraham (hip) and Renato Sanches (hamstring) are doubts.

Right-back Kyle Naughton is suspended and back up option Angel Rangel is out with a calf issue.

Predicted Line-ups

Predicted NUFC XI – (4-2-3-1) – Darlow – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett – Merino, Shelvey – Ritchie, Perez, Atsu– Joselu

Predicted Swansea XI – (4-1-3-2) –  Fabianski – Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson – Mesa – Clucas, Sanches, Carroll – Ayew, Bony.

 

Head-to-Heads

It’s been a mixed bag across our last five meetings, but we’ve had the upper hand in recent encounters, with September’s 1-0 win at the Liberty giving us a chance to do the double over them today.

 

Match Prediction

This is a massive game for both sides. A must win for them and a game that could have serious impact on our season moving forward. Win and we could be starting to steer clear of a few relegation candidates, but failure to do so and we’re dragged back into the thick of it.

With that in mind, I think both sides will be playing to win. By that I mean I don’t see either side being happy to sit back, keep it level and hope to nick it at the end. I think we might just see a more open game and a team that suggests Rafa is going for the win. He’ll know the importance of keeping fans happy and positive during this time of uncertainty and a home win in the league would be a huge step towards doing that.

 

I think they’ll be up for it, but they’re bottom of the league for a reason and I’m hoping (and believing) that we’ll take confidence from recent wins and keep the ball rolling with a slender victory here.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Swansea

Howay the lads!

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

43 thoughts on “Swansea (H): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line-ups

  1. I agree with just about everything you said Olly except I think Gayle will start instead of Joselu. We really shouldn’t need the outlet ball playing at home to the bottom team so go with the hot striker (Perez) and our best finisher (Gayle).

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  2. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Gayle and Joselu start. Personally I would go with Gayle and Perez behind him as he seems to be the form player. Also Murphy and Ritchie our wide with Shelvey and Merino in midfield.

    Will be tight and I’m going for 1-0/2-1

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  3. Cheers Olly,
    Rather concerned about this one, their new manager has gotten the better of Rafa twice as you rightly point out and there is an anxiety about the club at the moment due to the uncertainty over the clubs future and transfer situation. If we don’t start well and they do, I can see that anxiety effecting the players . Desperately need the win today to get some distance from the bottom 3 and we need other games to go our way too. Next up is Man City which will yield nil-pwa as they say in Eurovision.
    After that we have to hope Burnleys slump continues against us cause Palace and Manure will be mighty tough test.

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  4. Olly , don’t know if I would start Jonjo against his old club, he gets wound up far too easily and does silly things as a result, especially if we aren’t getting anywhere and they are. Ijust don’t trust him tbh. I do agree about Hayden though, he hasn’t looked good for a while now . Up front I would stick Perez, he’s found a bit of form , Gayle has taken to diving and Joselu works hard but misses too many sitters for me. If only he’d take a punt on Mitro, who I don’t believe is injured for a second.
    Ah well, an optimistic 1.0 and please don’t let that come back to bite me on the arse for that, I’ve had a **** week .

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  5. Make or break game. I see a few scenarios:

    WIN: Fat Man decides we are safe and will not invest.

    WIN: Stavely decides it is safe to buy NUFC and wants Rafa so pulls the trigger on a compromise deal.

    LOSE: Fat Man has to give Rafa 20 million pounds to buy a striker. Rafa sells a couple of players without having replacements and we go down to the wire again in the transfer window, but get somebody this time.

    DRAW: we are totally fcked as nothing will happen. No transfers, no money, no nothing. Will come down to the last 3 games of the season as to whether we are relegated again.

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  6. After today I’m finding it really hard to see a win from the next 10 games , they are all tough opposition, maybe Bournemouth, possibly Saints ? We should of picked up more points at home really. But in the end a quality forward should of arrived in the summer and we’d be far better off now.

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  7. Well to throw my selection alternative into the ring – I think he’ll go with Murphy as he’s probably been the most productive player in the last few games.

    I woke this morning feeling supremely confident of a win today – hope the players have too ??

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  8. If Swansea sit back and try and hit us on the break (which they should) it will be a difficult game for us. I don’t see ya breaking many teams down at home so this won’t be different. If they have a go at us I think we win.

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  9. There are several games where relegation rivals face off todsy. That is a bonus because it means points dropped one way or another sll over the shop.

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  10. Sunderland thrashed, man sent off. Bottom of the table and played a game more than the other. Ouch.
    Yeah Ellis must be laughing with his relegation ‘windfall’.

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  11. shamrock:
    Sunderland thrashed, man sent off. Bottom of the table and played a game more than the other. Ouch.
    Yeah Ellis must be laughing with his relegation ‘windfall’.

    I’m guessing even if we go down there will be no derby for sometime Sham

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  12. Well finally back on but for how long who knows, this site is driving me nuts.
    Had to turn off every other WORKING link shut down PC to get back on.

    Should of taken our chances , we’ll likely pay for it and they could of had a pen.

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  13. That is a wake-up call to Ashley, hopefully.

    As to fans, I don’t really feel anything. Dying or die, hard to say which one is better.

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  14. What a pile of crap. We need to be winning these at home. Cannot believe such a heap of **** against bottom of the league. Dire! ??? we didn’t lose, that’s the only grace.

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  15. ????? last time I feel supremely confident about this lot.

    Yet again a lack of quality in finishing has let us down!!.

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  16. Hmm not ideal.
    3 points off the relegation places.
    On the upside, other sides slipping down the table in real poor form and only 3 points off 10th… Literally any from half the league could drop this year. The relegation fight is that open..

    Worryingly though, we have to dismiss the notion of getting wins at home. This group.of players cant handle the pressure of fan expectation – the spotlight being shone on them. They must have mental problems. And that is a worry in a relegation dog fight. If ee are not clear of the drop by the last 3 games, then I predictwe will go down – because home or away the spotlight will be shining bright – and they will bottle it under the glare – just like they do at home every other week.

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  17. shamrock:
    Hmm not ideal.
    3 points off the relegation places.
    On the upside, other sides slipping down the table in real poor form and only 3 points off 10th… Literally any from half the league could drop this year. The relegation fight is that open..

    Worryingly though, we have to dismiss the notion of getting wins at home. This group.of players cant handle the pressure of fan expectation – the spotlight being shone on them. They must have mental problems. And that is a worry in a relegation dog fight. If ee are not clear of the drop by the last 3 games, then I predictwe will go down – because home or away the spotlight will be shining bright – and they will bottle it under the glare – just like they do at home every other week.

    Sham – the good thing is that we are creating the chances. The worrying thing is we can’t convert them.
    The players are trying, but they just can’t get that ball in the back of the net. We need a goal scorer in this window desperately – and if not, Rafa is going to have to bite the bullet and play Mitrovic.
    If we had someone who could score we’d be well clear of this mess I reckon

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  18. Another thing – I hope Shelvey goes this window.

    How dare he not shake Rafas hand when subbed – yes he’s frustrated, but that bloke has stuck with him through thick & thin – he doesn’t deserve that from Shelvey like.
    Fact is Shelvey wasn’t having a great game & Rafa was looking to win it.

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  19. The next meaningful game is Burnley on Jan 31st. That means that fatman has a full 2 weeks to get us a striker and save our season and himself about 150 million quid. Just do it you fat ****.

    Man City and Chelsea away are pretty much throw away games. I would set up exactly the same for City as we did at SJP. It looks like goal difference might matter and fck Neville and Carragher with their pathetic opinions.

    I would probably not play a full strength team at Chelsea either although I am not sure what the reaction would be to that from fans, pundits and journalists. Probably some diatribe about not respecting the tradition of the FA Cup?

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  20. On an unrelated note. Referees are idiots. I have seen a couple of games recently where the Ref has waved play on and played “advantage” when there was a foul in a good attacking position. I saw Mike Dean do it the other day when there was a clear foul 25 yards out in the centre of the pitch and the ball had gone out to the wing. How is that ADVANTAGE?

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