Six games remain for Newcastle United to make an unlikely escape from relegation, and the first sees them take on a Swansea City side to whom they have lost in six of their last seven Premier League meetings.
Performances such as the one which saw them surrender at Southampton last weekend are only serving to reinforce the feeling that Newcastle will be losing their top-flight status at the end of the season, and with a bit of a whimper. Half-hearted and lightweight defending contributed to the concession of three goals, prompting boss Rafael Benitez to accuse the side of only trying after falling behind. Such a defeatist mentality is worrisome for all concerned, and means that it would take quite some turnaround in order for them to survive.
With relegation rivals Norwich City and Sunderland facing each other in Saturday’s early kick-off, the size of the task in hand will be set out for the Magpies before they take to the pitch for this encounter, which they must win. Anything other than three points and all hopes of staying up would seemingly be all but over, and the likelihood of Benitez initiating his break-out clause in the summer would increase by several notches. The important thing here is to be solid at the back; then they can work on breaking Swansea down.
And the visitors will be coming into this with a great deal of confidence following a run of four wins in six games which has led them to securing their safety. The most recent of those saw them end the long unbeaten run of defending champions Chelsea with an impressive display that showcased more of the intricate passing football with which the club is now so well associated. It has been a tough campaign for the Swans, but they are ending it superbly, inspired by leading scorer Gylfi Sigurdsson.
Few players in the Premier League are in better form than the Icelander, who has netted nine times since the turn of the year and along with the new management team, has to receive much of the credit for the club’s recent revival. He will surely be the biggest threat to Newcastle here, although the pace of Jefferson Montero will also be likely to cause numerous problems. The winger has had his ups and downs this term, but was a thorn in Chelsea’s side through 90 minutes and has the ability to expose the hosts’ weaknesses here.
A groin injury and two broken fingers keep Daryl Janmaat out of this game for Newcastle, while Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor are also missing.
Swansea have a fully-fit squad for this one, with Leon Britton having recovered from the injury that kapt him out against Chelsea.
Last Meeting: It was a goal fest in April 2015 as Swansea won 3-2 to extend the home side’s miserable losing streak. Ayoze Perez gave Newcastle the lead, but the game was put beyond their reach by Nelson Oliveira’s header, and strikes from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jack Cork. A late goal back from Siem de Jong did little to alter the mood on Tyneside.