The term “must win” is often bandied about at this point in the season. But a positive result at St James’ Park this weekend really is crucial for the Swans, still anchored to the bottom of the league table and four points adrift. In his first three games, new boss Carlos Carvalhal has introduced a pressing style of play with mixed results. A win away at Watford (was it luck or persistence that paid off in the end? Most would say both), a loss against Spurs (though perhaps unlucky not to get a draw) and a stalemate away to an impressive Wolves side, it’s been a tough run of fixtures for Carlos and the Swans.
Newcastle have been poor at St James’ Park recently, with three losses and a draw in their last four Premier League home games. So they’ll be looking to make the most of the visit from their South Wales opponents, who have managed just two wins on the road so far this season. Newcastle have already claimed two crucial doubles over West Ham and Stoke, adding Swansea to that list will go some way to easing any anxiety of relegation.
Perhaps to the Swans advantage, they are currently a somewhat unknown entity. As stated earlier, Carvalhal has yet to fully stamp his philosophy onto the team and is certainly still figuring out his best starting eleven. A fit Wilfried Bony is always a threat in front of goal, particularly if the Swans can reproduce their second half performance against Spurs, where it seemed the only piece of the puzzle missing was a striker to finish one of the fine deliveries into the box.
Swans Team News
Midfielder Leroy Fer will now be available for selection following a successful appeal of his rather harsh sending off against Wolves in the FA Cup. Kyle Naughton’s deserved suspension continues and the list of injuries has grown once again. Renato Sanches limped off with a suspected hamstring injury at Molineux, Angel Rangel remains unavailable with a calf issue whilst youngster Tammy Abraham is a doubt due to a hip injury that has kept him out of recent games.
Defender Kyle Bartley made his return to action against Wolves, having been sidelined since August with a knee injury. He’ll be keen to make a point of proving his worth to new boss Carvalhal.
Ki Sung-Yueng and Leon Britton provide a double boost for the Swans, returning to training this week after almost a month of recovery. Both players can be instrumental in the middle of the park, and Swans fans will be hoping Ki can start chipping in with the goals again.
Head To Head
The two sides have already clashed once this season back in September at the Liberty Stadium, with Jamaal Lascelles scoring the only goal of the game to claim all three points for the visitors. Since their promotion to the Premier League in 2011 Swansea have had the better of Newcastle in their 11 recent meetings – winning six, drawing twice and losing three.
Swans fans will have their eyes on former player Jonjo Shelvey should he feature, knowing he is capable of almost anything when he has a point to prove. Against former club Liverpool in 2013 he scored his first goal in a Swans shirt and provided an assist in a 2-2 draw at the Liberty. In true Shelvey fashion he was also involved in both Liverpool goals.
Transfers Lost At Sea
Most would have expected a few new faces in the Swansea starting 11 this weekend, but alas there has been little but speculation on the transfer front. It doesn’t bode well, considering these are the games that simply must be won. Carvalhal assured fans at the most recent press conference that “the boat is on the sea“. So just sit back Jacks, relax and wait for those lobsters to bite…