Newcastle Club Focus - Magpies hope for Easter bonus
Newcastle go into the Easter weekend looking to extend their run of three consecutive wins in the league. The Magpies achieved that feat for the first time this season in beating Liverpool, enhancing their chances of finishing in the top six.
The Easter weekend is always an important stage of the season and two wins from the two games would put further pressure on fifth place Chelsea. Newcastle will face Swansea on Good Friday and then have a home game against relegation threatened Bolton. Both of those teams are in good form at the moment although Alan Pardew’s side will be confident given their current run.
Newcastle and Swansea have been two of the surprise teams this campaign with the two clubs doing well under British managers. The Swans currently sit 11th in the table and are well clear of the relegation zone where many expected them to finish. Pardew will need to be tactically spot-on to cope with Swansea’s well-publicised short passing game. In their past two matches the Welsh team have been undone by opponents adopting a high pressing game and that is an option Pardew may look to adopt. Brendan Rodger’s team have been very strong at home suffering only three defeats all season.
When the two teams met in December last year the game finished as a forgettable 0-0 draw. Expectations will be higher this time around with both managers likely to go for attacking line-ups. Newcastle have some new injuries problems to contend with as midfielders Danny Guthrie and Harris Vuckic are both out.
There is also a doubt over James Perch who has a slight knock so youngster James Tavernier has been recalled from his loan spell at MK Dons. Perch will be needed as Fabricio Coloccini is still injured although the captain could make an early return against Bolton on Monday. As a result of the injury problems either Davide Santon or Ryan Taylor could return to the side.
Manager Alan Pardew believes that his team are well ahead of schedule this season. It has been a remarkable 2011/12 campaign that began with many pundits tipping the Magpies as possible relegation contenders. After a strong start to the season that was never likely to be the case but now the club need to finish off all their hard work with only seven games left to play.
Pardew told the Northern Echo newspaper: “We're a year ahead of schedule. I didn't expect us to be fighting as close as we are at the moment for a European spot, but we're going to take the chance in front of us if we can. The target was to be in contention for Europe next year, now we find ourselves in contention for Europe this year,” Pardew told the Northern Echo
At the start of the season it was believed that a top ten finish was the target set by the club’s hierarchy, which at the time looked an unrealistic target.
See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Swansea v Newcastle