Swansea City face their biggest and toughest away tests of the season on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Championship league leaders Newcastle United.
Following relegation from the Premiership last season, the Magpies are looking for an instant return to the top flight and it’s so far so good as they lead by 2 points, but Sousa’s side will be looking to hinder their progress and be the first team to win away at St James’ Park this season.
After a slow start, Paulo Sousa has guided us to a remarkable 4th place thanks to an excellent run of games recently, including wins over Cardiff City, West Bromwich Albion and Derby County.
40,000 plus fans at a hugely impressive St James Park including a sell-out allocation of 2,800 travelling jacks will make it a memorable occasion, even more so if we come back with a good result.
Swansea Manager, Paulo Sousa:
‘They are top of the table for a reason. They have players with Premier League quality, for sure.
‘I have seen them not play so well in games and still win. That is down to experience and the quality of the players.
‘If we show the same spirit and talent on Saturday, then that will include Newcastle as well.
‘I think we could earn respect from every other team in our division if we could beat Newcastle.’
Newcastle United boss, Chris Hughton:
‘Their record speaks for itself,’
‘They’re a tough team with a good shape, and they’re difficult to play against.
‘We’re the home side, and we’ve got to force the issue. We can’t afford to take them lightly – they are where they are on merit.
‘They’ve played some good teams, and come up trumps with some good results. We’ve got to make sure we’re on our game.’
Newcastle United Team News:
Ryan Taylor, Danny Simpson and striker Andy Carroll are all injury doubts and they’ll definitely be without striker Shola Ameobi and former Manchester United midfielder Nicky Butt.
Zurab Khizanishvili is available again after serving a 3-match ban.
Player to watch: Kevin Nolan
The former Bolton Wanderers midfielder is the club’s top scorer with 8 league goals so far this season. His goal on Monday was enough to get an away win at Preston and he recently scored a hatrick away at Ipswich as the Magpies beat Roy Keane’s side 4-0 in September.
Swansea City Team News:
Paulo Sousa is unlikely to many changes, if any to the team that beat Derby County last Friday.
Skipper Garry Monk is still an injury doubt but the Swans will welcome Sheffield United winger David Cotterill into the side. The new loan signing is likely to be named amongst the substitutes.
Joe Allen hasn’t been able to hold down a regular first team place due to injuries but hopefully he’s fully fit to return tomorrow. The young Welshman came on as a substitute and he was the key provider to Fede Bessone’s winning goal in the 81st minute. Andrea Orlandi would be the likely player to be dropped if Allen did return.
Stephen Dobbie is also a doubt after picking up an injury during a recent Reserves match, while Mark Gower looks set to sit out with a hamstring problem.
Player to watch: Darren Pratley
The midfielder leads the vote for the PFA Championship player of the month, while the 4 below him in the standings all play for tomorrow’s opposition. He was immense in the Cardiff City game, scoring a brace to help give us a 3-2 victory. He works tiredlessly with Britton and Allen and they’ll be key to us getting a good result tomorrow.
Match Facts & Stats
This is the first time the two sides have met in the League since 1984, Newcastle won that game 2-0. The last time we faced the Magpies was in the FA Cup in 1995, we lost 3-0.
Newcastle United are unbeaten at home this season, Swansea City are unbeaten in the last 11 games.
Newcastle have won the last 5 consecutive games, Swansea City have won 4 in the last 5.
Head to head: Newcastle United wins – 20, Draws – 3, Swansea wins – 9.
It’s the toughest game of the season by far, away at the table toppers who are looking to get back into the Premiership as soon as possible. The Swans will fancy their chances though, they’re in confident mood after a good unbeaten run of 11 games. My head says a narrow loss 2-1, but my heart says a good draw. I hope they’re both wrong!
Saturday 5th December