Return of the (ex) Mag! Newcastle United vs Norwich match preview.
Posted on September 22nd, 2012 | 21 Comments |
Venue: St James’ Park, Newcastle.
Date: Sun, 23rd Sept.
Kick off: 3:00pm
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.
UK TV: None.
Chris Hughton will make his first public appearance at St James’ Park since he managed a 1-1 draw for the Toon against Chelsea in November 2010.
We all know that shortly after that game, with the team standing in 11th place in the Premier League (after our one year sabbatical in the Championship) Messrs Ashley and Llambias showed Hughton the door to bring in a manager with much “greater experience” (i.e. their own man). Pardew, an unpopular choice as Hughton’s replacement, tried to make the most of his opportunity and said this week:
“Both of us could probably look each other in the eye and say we have done a decent job at Newcastle”. Maybe but…
Now is not the time to drag out the old “should he / shouldnt he” routine but lets hope that Chris, who led us back into the top flight at the first time of asking (accumulating 102 points along the way), as well as bringing Graham Carr to the club, is afforded the same reception as former manager Kevin Keegan experienced on his return with Manchester City all those years ago.
Since his debut in the Premier League as Norwich manager, after a fairly successful season in charge of Championship side Birmingham City, despite the turmoil at the club, Hughton and his assistant Colin Calderwood have seen the Canaries draw three and lose one of their first four games. His first match in charge was a memorable (for all the wrong reasons) 0-5 thrashing at Fulham. However since then he’s stabilised the team with three successive draws including a very impressive 1-1 at White Hart Lane.
We all know how well Norwich fared last season upon their return to the top tier. Their former manager Paul Lambert steered the team to a very creditable final day 12th place in the Premier League, two points above the Mackems and only behind Swansea on goal difference. His side were refreshingly attack oriented and although they experienced some hidings along the way, notably the two games against Manchester City with 1-5 and 1-6 results, they were also able to dish it out as we found to our cost when the two sides met at Carrow Road in December last year. On that day Norwich used their wide men to great effect and scored four headed goals against a makeshift centre back pairing of Simmo and Perch.
It was undoubtedly Lambert’s attitude to the game that marked him out as a manager with “future potential,” and it was no surprise to learn that he’d been “tapped up” by another club during the close season. Perhaps the only surprise was that it was Aston Villa who took him away from Carrow Road after a very successful three year career with the Canaries? It appears that Norwich and Villa have yet to agree a “fee” for Lambert’s move so it’s likely a tribunal will meet to agree a financial remuneration plan for the Norfolk club.
Meanwhile the Board at Norwich have chosen to put their faith in Hughton to rekindle that attacking verve and try to repeat what his predecessor did so well last year. Hughton began with a 4-2-3-1 against Fulham, but in the last two games has moved to a standard 4-4-1-1 with Simeon Jackson supporting the talismanic Grant Holt up front. Although he excelled last season, recording 17 goals in his first Premiership campaign, Holt has yet to hit the back of the net since the opening day – so be warned Saylor!
Newcastle United v Norwich City history.
Norwich City finally won at SJP for the first time in 50 years in February 1988, with the total record being:
Games 48, won 20, drawn: 13, lost: 15.
However our more recent Premier League head to head records is:
Games 8, won 4, drawn 1, lost 3, goals for 15, goals against 11, plus 1 League Cup tie.
Jan 1994: Norwich City v Newcastle United – W 1-2 (Beardsley, Cole).
Mar 1994: Newcastle United v Norwich City – W 3-0 (Cole, Lee, Beardsley).
Dec 1994: Norwich City v Newcastle United – L 2-1 (Fox (Pen)).
Apr 1995: Newcastle United v Norwich City – W 3-0 (Beardsley 2 (1 pen), Kitson).
Aug 2004: Newcastle United v Norwich City – D 2-2 (Bellamy, Hughes).
Oct 2004: Newcastle United v Norwich City – W 2-1 (Jenas, Ameobi (pen) Carling Cup).
Apr 2005: Norwich City v Newcastle United – L 2-1 (Kluivert).
Dec 2011: Norwich City v Newcastle United – L 4-2 (Ba 2).
Mar 2012: Newcastle United v Norwich City – W 1-0 (Cisse).
So Norwich have failed to win any of their four Premier League visits to Newcastle (D1, L3) and have not won at Newcastle since a 2-0 win in the old Division One in September 1988.
They’ve only won one of their last nine Premier League games (W1, D4, L4) – a 2-0 victory against Aston Villa on the final day of last season, and have only scored two goals in the
Premier League this season – the joint lowest total with QPR. They also have the lowest chance conversion rate in the Premier League scoring with just four per cent of their shots. In addition to which The Canaries have conceded in their last 35 top-flight away games which is a Premier League record.
However Newcastle have won just two of their last eight Premier League games (W2, D2, L4). We haven’t kept a clean sheet in our last six Premier League matches, and we are the only club yet to score a first-half goal in the Premier League this season. Only two players, Demba Ba (3) and Hatem Ben Arfa (2), have scored for Newcastle in the Premier League this season and of those goals 3 have come from individual pieces of brilliance rather than as a result of concerted team play.
Newcastle United (from): Steve Harper (G), Rob Elliot (G), James Tavernier (D), Steven Taylor (D), Mike Williamson (D), Davide Santon (D), James Perch (D,M), Shane Ferguson (D,M), Vurnon Anita (M,D), Yohan Cabaye (M), Jonas Gutierrez (M), Dan Gosling (M), Sylvain Marveaux (M), Gabriel Obertan (M), Gael Bigirimana (M), Hatem Ben Arfa (M,F), Haris Vuckic (M,F), Romain Amalfitano (M), Sammy Ameobi (M,F), Demba Ba (F), Shola Ameobi (F).
Doubtful: Cheick Tiote (Groin), Papiss Cisse (Illness).
Knacked: Tim Krul (elbow), Fabricio Coloccini (Hamstring), Danny Simpson (Hamstring), Ryan Taylor (Anterior Cruciate Ligament – Knee), Cheick Tiote (Calf / Shin).
Norwich City (from): John Ruddy (G), Declan Rudd (G), Mark Bunn (G), Jed Steer (G), Russell Martin (D), Leon Barnett (D), Sebastien Bassong (D), Javier Garrido (D), Michael Turner (D), Ryan Bennett (D), Elliott Ward (D), Marc Tierney (D), Robert Snodgrass (M), Jonathan Howson (M), Bradley Johnson (M), Andrew Surman (M), Wesley Hoolahan (M), David Fox (M), Jacob Butterfield (M), Alexander Tettey (M), Grant Holt (F), Simeon Jackson (F), Steve Morison (F), Chris Martin (F), Harry Kane (F).
Doubtful: Elliot Bennett (knee), Lappin (ankle), Whittaker (ankle), Pilkington (groin).
Knacked: Simon Lappin (ankle).
Despite the fact that we’ve played almost entirely different teams in Europe than in the Premier League, we’ll be struggling to put together a fresh, uninjured and, more specifically, positionally aware first XI at SJP on Sunday. All the back four had a run out in Madeira and apart from Anita, the same players look likely to face Norwich on Sunday. So thanks for not buying any new defenders Fatman!
We dont have a lot of choice at Right Back, and there’s a possibility that if Anita’s other half has “dropped” by Sunday then he’ll be lining up at St James’ Park alongside Saylor (who’s looking like the old clumsy Saylor), Williamson and Santon.
The midfield is less clear-cut partly because we never know Pardew’s preferred strategy, nor do we know if Tiote can finally reclaim his place in central midfield on Sunday. Hatem Ben Arfa will return (following the last of his 3 match ban in Europe) and Cabaye plus Gutierrez will also be available.
Cisse missed last night’s 0-0 draw with Maritimo in Madeira through illness, while Tiote has been out since the opening day of the season with a calf injury. Both were expected to train today and could be included in the First XI. Demba Ba (our top scorer this season) was also rested and will always want to play.
Norwich, on the other hand, have had a reasonably straightforward and injury free first few games. Their back four looks to have settled on our former central defender Bassong (since his move from Tottenham), partnering Barnett along with Martin and Garrido on the flanks. The midfield will include three former Leeds United players, Johnson, Howson and now Snodgrass, all of whom are capable of hitting the target, along with Surman or Pilkington. The front two (Holt and Jackson) will either play as a “two” or with Jackson slightly deeper.
Below I’m giving two possible line ups for the Toon, the right one and Pardew’s selection.
Norwich have many good points and despite the fact he has yet to score, Holt will be a constant threat to the defence as will Jackson and any one of the midfield four when they move forward.
Despite the fact his tinkering managed to rescue a point for the Toon after his lacklustre side almost gave up in the first half at Goodison, Pardew will feel the pressure of needing to win at home. It is now well documented that he has yet to select a side that has delivered in both halves of our four matches this season. This is emphasised by the fact that we havent scored a goal in the first half since the campaign started.
“Newcastle have been disappointingly stagnant and toothless so far this season – “a ghost of a trace of a pale imitation” of their former selves, as the song says – and Ben Arfa has been the only stellar performer in an oddly one-dimensional and unimaginative side” wrote Kevin Christie in backpage.com.
Pardew has to recognise this issue and start the game strongly with his best possible team and formation rather than rely on the usual “tinkering” at half time. His classic quote “Sometimes you have to throw a team out there and adjust” suggests his well paid analytical team, together with his coaching staff and of course Pardew himself maybe need to start thinking about another career if this continues?
Get it right Pardew and get it right first time!