It was always going to happen, wasn’t it? As much as everyone was enjoying Newcastle’s resurgence under Alan Pardew this season, the romantic notion that maybe you didn’t have to spend millions to succeed in the rich man’s plaything that is the Premier League couldn’t last, with the last few weeks proving to be a stark reality check for the Toon Army.
A winless streak against the Manchester clubs and Chelsea is nothing to be ashamed of, but injuries to Chiek Tiote, Steven Taylor and club captain Fabricio Coloccini have left the wafer-thin nature of the squad badly exposed and a 4-2 defeat to Norwich City last weekend shows how difficult it will be for Newcastle to compete without their first-choice XI.
Now this isn’t to say Newcastle will just slide away into the bottom half – they are still well placed to finish as the best of the rest, which would still be a fine achievement – but in the meantime, Toon fans may have to accept the sticky patch that might well follow.
In that defeat to Norwich last weekend, Newcastle defended like they’d just met each other in the dressing room, hungover after a night out on the Bigg Market. But what do you expect when you are forced to employ Danny Simpson and James Perch, inadequate full-backs at the best of times, in central defence?
Astute as ever, Paul Lambert recognised the problem and ruthlessly took advantage and the equally bright Brendan Rodgers will be looking to do the same when his Swansea City side visits the Whatever-Mike-Ashley-Calls-It-These-Days Stadium on Saturday.
As a result, look to Danny Graham to be the man to profit at 13/2 to open the scoring and 9/5 to score at any time.
In that defeat to Norwich last weekend, Newcastle defended like they’d just met each other in the dressing room, hungover after a night out on the Bigg Market.
Grant Holt netted twice last weekend and Graham, who after a slow start has five Premier League goals to his name, will no doubt be licking his lips at the ease in which the Norwich hitman breached the Toon defence. Two of Graham’s goals have been the first of the match and at 13/2, he is reasonably priced to make it three.
The way Newcastle conceded those goals at Carrow Road last Saturday – all from crosses, three from set-pieces – means it may be worth a small play on an outsider.
Swans defender Ashley Williams has scored already this season, away at Chelsea from a Mark Gower set-piece, and at 28/1 to score first and 8/1 any time could be worth a look. Williams has a decent enough scoring record, having scored three and five goals in the last two seasons.
Having explicitly stated the extent of Newcastle’s defensive woes, it must be said their attacking prowess is still intact and they are playing a side that are yet to win an away match and have conceded 18 goals in seven trips away from the Liberty Stadium – a record only Bolton can beat.
Extremely unlucky not to score against Chelsea in their last home match, it must be remembered they actually scored twice last week. Well I say they, but I really mean Demba Ba, who at 7/2 to score first and evens at any time is realistically the only Newcastle player you can back with any conviction.
I tipped Ba to score at Old Trafford a few weeks back and he duly obliged by netting the controversial penalty that earned Newcastle a 1-1 draw. That goal was one of 11 league goals this campaign – more than half the 21 Newcastle have managed in total.
If something was to happen to Ba, you would really begin to worry for them, but luckily he’s fit and well and has to be backed against a side whose away record is statistically the worst in the division.
New customers can register here to claim a free £25 bet or click here to see all our Premier League odds.
Follow us on Twitter @bwinbetting