Second season-itis: A medical term with origins in the media, usually used to describe the footballing condition where you’re not quite as good as you were in your first season. Symptoms include individuals not scoring as many goals/playing as well as they did and cumulatively, a group of players finding themselves in a lower league position than they previously were. n; Papiss Cisse, Newcastle United under Alan Pardew, Swansea City.
In fairness, I do hate such lazy journalistic terms but being a lazy journalist and otherwise struggling for an opening gambit, I thought I’d slide down that slippery slope as a reference point to begin discussing two teams lumbered in the middle of the Premier League table.
Certainly Cisse seems a shadow of the player that finished everything he hit in his first few months in English football but was it really realistic to expect Newcastle to continue to over-achieve in the manner they did last year? Probably not.
When it comes to Swansea, the Welshmen have an identical record over the first eleven games of this season to that of their return to the top flight with three wins, four draws and four defeats, with the only thing missing being the endless platitudes in the papers describing their lovely-looking football.
Having had a skim across both sets of clubs supporters’ message boards, it seems the faithful are all in the consensus that their respective sides should have won a game here, drawn one there and generally should be playing a bit better. Reading between the lines, there’s a reason these two are halfway up the table with a splattering of results either way.
The Barcodes seemed particularly perturbed by last weekend’s 1-0 home defeat to West Ham, but I was impressed enough with them the week before against Liverpool.
Similarly, Swansea had to come from behind to snatch a point against struggling Southampton but were arguably the better side prior to that against Chelsea.
Again, there’s no great need to pore over every nook and cranny of each game and these fluctuations in performance are the staple traits of sides destined to hang about in the thick of mid-table between now and the end of the season.
By all accounts, Newcastle were pretty poor against the Hammers, but otherwise they’ve been strong this season at the St James’ Discounted Sporting Goods and Iffy Loans Dome, winning six of nine games in all competitions.
In contrast to that, the Swans have struggled once they’ve crossed the border and since that opening-day 5-0 blitz against hapless QPR, it’s been three defeats and a draw with just one goal scored.
It’s always difficult to look past a strong home record against a side who struggle on their travels and bwin’s 3way football betting market is taking that as its lead by making the hosts 87/100 favourites, with Swansea at 3/1 and the draw 5/2.
Swansea’s travails on the road do not inspire much confidence in lumping on them to pick up the points, but going against the grain, I do think they’re good enough for a point and 5/2 for shared spoils is good value.
My logic here is that the Toon are no great shakes either and generally there aren’t that many goals in the Swans’ games.
Michael Laudrup has followed Brendan Rodgers’ lead in demanding his sides have 93.2% of the ball and do 0.073% with it and considering the aforementioned Cisse possibly being blocked from playing due to a club-versus-country row with Senegal, I reckon the visitors can have enough of the play to numb Newcastle while also pinching a goal of their own.
The 1-1 looks business at 11/2 and I’m certainly buoyed by adroitly picking the correct score in the Italy v France friendly on Wednesday. If you’d have stuck your free £20 bet, which is available for anyone joining bwin.com, on Les Bleus to win 2-1 you could have claimed £250 and doing likewise on the 1-1 draw between Newcastle and Swansea will return £130 if it comes in.
The other damning statistic (I’m not sure where the first one was) about Swansea is that they generally save all their goals up for the second half, when sides get tired/bored of watching them pop it around the back four. Only four of their 16 league goals this season have been scored in the first half and one of them was in injury time.
This hasn’t escaped the attention of the bwin bookies, who price them at a fairly lowly 53/100 to not notch during the opening 45 minutes, but that does open up the half-time/full-time market, with draw/draw at 9/2 and Newcastle/draw at 25/2 well worth considering.
But after my sterling work in midweek, I’m eyeing up another correct score bet and the 1-1 shout is the way I will be playing this one.