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Nov 17 / Jamie Hardesty

Match Preview: Swansea Home

Newcastle will today be looking to right the wrongs of last weekend’s home defeat to West Ham, by taking all three points against a Swansea side travelling to St. James’ Park. With Newcastle’s stuttering league form a win is sorely needed, although the home side face a difficult task with a whole host of first team absences.

Swansea City visit St. James’ Park

Team News

Alan Pardew will not only be without inspirational captain, Fabricio Coloccini, for today’s tie but will also have to deal with a depleted midfield as regulars Yohan Cabaye and Jonas Gutierrez will miss the game with injuries.

Compounded by the already absent utility man James Perch, Alan Pardew is suffering a further headache whilst awaiting a FIFA ruling to know if Papisss Cisse can be selected, following a breakdown in communication between Newcastle and The Senegal FA this week.

Nevertheless some positive news for Pardew is that Cheick Tiote has now served his three match ban and will return to the heart of the Newcastle midfield.

How will the team set up?

I expect the lineup to be quite straight forward despite the injury problems. Krul in goal with a flat back four of Simpson, Williamson, Taylor and Santon. Ferguson left wing and Ben Arfa on the right, with Tiote and Anita in the middle. If Cisse is cleared to play he could partner Ba upfront, setting us up in a 4-4-2.

However, Pardew has spoken this week about how our midfield has suffered this season. He claimed because it was in such form last season, he could afford to play two strikers upfront from the start of a game. Whether Cisse can play or not, we may see an extra man in the middle to stifle Swansea’s play.

The visitors play possession football and our midfield workrate and ability to win the ball back will be crucial to getting a result. We could see Bigirimana introduced into the fray or even have Obertan on the right, allowing Ben Arfa to move in to the number 10 role behind Ba. It would be surprising to see us go 4-4-2 as Pardew has recently highlighted it’s risks when a midfield is underperforming, as ours currently is. This is a testing game that Newcastle must not lose and really need to win, selection is crucial.

Probable 11:

Despite the negativity that comes with having defensive minded players Tiote, Anita and Bigi in central midfield, considering the uncertainty surrounding Cisse and thinking about Pardew’s comments in regards to 4-4-2, I’m predicting a 4-5-1.

Krul

Simmo Willo Saylor Santoon

HBA Anita Tiote Bigi Fergie

Ba

The Opposition:

Swansea have the same points at this stage of the campaign as they amassed last season under Brendan Rodgers. Former Barcelona and Real Madrid superstar Michael Laudrup is now the man at the helm, notably adding a Spanish contingent to the Welsh outfit, making his mark on his new squad signing the likes of Chico, Pablo Hernandez, De Guzman are the most impressive Michu.

Swansea beat QPR 5-0 away from home on the first day of the season, although have only managed one goal away from home in the Premier League since their opening triumph. Moreover, with just one win in 9 league games this fixture looks unfavourable for the Swans, defeat Newcastle’s current underwhelming league position.

Making his mark: Michael Laudrup

Former Newcastle player Wayne Routledge has held down a regular place under Routledge, playing on the left in their usual 4-3-3 set up. This may come as a surprise to some Newcastle fans, as Routledge was a player who never really shone on his time on Tyneside and Laudrup sems to have a whole host of attacking talent currently  in his squad.

Michu is the dangerman with 7 Premier League goals, impressing as the side’s new number 9. It seems Laudrup has added quality as regulars from last season’s impressive show such as Nathan Dyer can’t seem to get in the side.

Luckily for Newcastle new signing Ki, a record buy from Celtic, and Dutch goalkeeper Vorm are unavailable due to injury.

What are the Opposition’s weaknesses?

Swansea have found goals hard to come by on their travels since their opening day mauling of QPR. Whilst Michu has been impressive at times, the Swanas have failed to score in 4 of their last 6 away games, suggesting that Newcastle may not miss Captain Coloccini as much as people may think.

Defensively Swansea are poorest though. They have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 9 league matches and are certainly vulnerable. Left back and defensive star Neil Taylor is out for the season and Chico, even if fit for today’s game, seems much like a poor man’s David Luiz of Chelsea. The Spaniard excels at times, although has a customary moments of madness and eccentricity about his game, that makes the Swansea backline suffer as a unit.

What I’d like to see:

This week I want to see us score first. It’s pretty simple, we score first in a game we usually win but if we concede the game’s first goal we somehow cannot get ourselves back in to the game. We are unbeaten when scoring first this season but are yet to win having conceding first, it’s a worrying statistic.

I’d like to see us show a bit more forward play, with quick attacks, as opposed to the poor show against West Ham. A bit of oompf if you like! We need to start the game well and put Swansea under pressure.

As for the 4-4-2/4-5-1 debate going on, it’s tough to call. Maybe we should start with Bigi today like we did against Brugge at home and then bring on Shola or Cisse for the second half if it isn’t working. I’m concerned that if Cisse is available and we play 4-4-2 the midfield, without Cabaye, will fail to create enough and the game will pass Cisse by.

I do think having Tiote, Anita and Bigi is too negative but without Cabaye and even Jonas, who else is ready to play centre midfield for us in the Premier League that can be a bit more attacking? Abeid and Amalfitano just don’t seem quite there.

I’d like us to get the ball on the floor to Ben Arfa and Ba as much as possible and push forward to support them. If we keep it tight in the first half and nullify Swansea’s threat, which I don’t think will actually be too much, we can push on in the second half, set ourselves up a bit more attackingly and take the three points.

What I expect to see:

Basically, Swansea have a lot of the ball but fail to score. I really think our back line will shut them out. What I’m more concerned about is the distribution from the back to our midfield and striker/s. Williamson and Simpson are guilty of long balls to know effect too much in games and without Cabaye to collect it from the back, I’m wondering how we will build our attacks. This could be another poor showing.

I do expect Ba and Ben Arfa to create, and maybe it will fall for Ben Arfa this week. He seems to be due a goal. Santon will continually impress and Krul will make a couple of good saves to keep us in it. Sammy and Obertan could come on second half and help the attack out, but ultimately another frustrating game it has to be said.

I simply can’t see us controlling the majority of the game and comfortably winning 2/3-0. I do think Swansea will be kept at bay but our approach play is poor and I’m worried about goals. Hopefully Demba can score a cracker and seal it with a bit of individual quality in the final third. Another scrappy and frustrating game though, still not looking like the Newcastle of last season.

A solid return from Cheick Tiote is much needed

Anita’s role in centre midfield alongside Tiote could decide this for us. We need both to be on form, controlling that area and winning the midfield battle. I don’t know what we are going to get but good luck to them.

Prediction:

Another frustrating game but this time Newcastle to edge it. Ultimately problems will remain but a feeling of relief for fans and staff alike afterwards. 1-0, Ba.

Final Note:

It’s a 3pm Saturday kick off just when you thought they were extinct! Here’s hoping we make the most of it and get a much needed three points. The side is depleted by injuries but we still have quality present and we should be winning this one. The boys were angry to lose last weekend and will be wanting to turn things around. I can see us winning this one, if only marginally.

HWTL.

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