This is a game involving two sides who started the season poorly – to an extent where the position of both managers came under scrutiny. However, with both now making a recovery over recent weeks, it relieves a little more pressure from this forthcoming fixture at St James’ Park.
Following the poor campaign that Newcastle experienced last term, it wasn’t surprising to see Alan Pardew start to feel the heat following a poor start to this one. However, it finally looks as though the worst is behind the Magpies and their supporters will most certainly be looking up the table, with the club currently positioned in 9th. In fact, should results go their way this weekend, they could even force themselves into the top five with just three points keeping them from 5th place Manchester United. They must be almightily confident over their prospects as well, with the Magpies recording victories over the likes of Tottenham and Chelsea over recent weeks, to put any bad form completely behind them.
Norwich on the other hand will be hoping to continue their recovery, with the Canaries overcoming West Ham in 3-1 fashion before the international break. Some would suggest that such a result was essential for the Carrow Road outfit, after they had lost 7-0 and 4-0 to Manchester City and Manchester United respectively. However, while their results have been poor, dispensation should probably be given to Chris Hughton because of the standard of the club’s opponents. Over the past few weeks, the Canaries have played the likes of City, United, Chelsea and Arsenal – so it will now be interesting to see how they fare against so-called easier teams.
In terms of team news, Newcastle have been dealt a blow at the back with Mathieu Debuchy set to miss out as he serves his one-match ban. On a more positive note, Alan Pardew’s other defensive problems have eased and he has three additional players to choose from in the form of Paul Dummett, Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor. The visitors on the other hand have several issues to contend with and Chris Hughton will again be without Mark Bunn, Alexander Tettey and Ricky van Wolfswinkel who are all on the treatment table. Anthony Pilkington returns to the reckoning following a hamstring injury, although Chris Hughton may decide to keep changes to a minimum following the club’s win before the international break.
If we turn towards a prediction, this is a difficult game to analyse. Newcastle’s results have been promising over the last few weeks, but their home form throughout the campaign has been quite poor. Therefore, taking Norwich’s win in the last game into account, our tip is going to be a combative 2-2 draw at St James’ Park.