Following Shola Ameobi's late leveler against Tottenham this past weekend, Newcastle now find themselves unbeaten over 10 matches in all competitions. Roberto Martinez's Latics are on exactly the opposite form, coming into the game having lost their last 6 in all competitions. Truthfully, this is the kind of match that Newcastle are going to have to take the points from if they are to parlay their early season form into a top-half final position in the table.
Alan Pardew will have a number of interesting squad decisions with Hatem Ben Arfa having finally returned to Premier League action with a substitute appearance vs. Spurs, Shola Ameobi having scored in his own substitute appearance and Davide Santon also finally making his Newcastle debut. Each of these players made a case for their inclusion into the starting line-up in their limited minutes last Sunday, but thus far, AP has not tinkered with a lineup that is working. Following the jump, 5 points, projected line-ups and a tremendous recipe for pies. Well maybe not that, but the others for sure.
- Wigan Athletic have scored exactly 1 goal in 4 road league matches thus far, which could be cause for concern as they are facing a Newcastle defense that has been solid, giving up only 5 goals in the run of play through 8 matches.
- 9 of the 14 goals that the Latics have conceded have come in the first half. When Newcastle have scored in the first half, they have done so in bunches-- all four of their first half goals coming across only two matches (Wolves and Blackburn).
- Wigan have kept their last two opponents at 71% pass completion-- Newcastle have been hanging around 80% (even coming out at a favorable 78% against Tottenham's supberb central midfield). Needless to say, if we can knock the ball around the park with consistency, it will bode well for our chances.
- If you can't tune in for the entire match, make sure you are able to get in front of a screen for the final 5 minutes. There have been four goals scored in the final five minutes of the last four meetings between Newcastle and Wigan. Let's hope for more of that, but only for the good guys.
- Not only have Wigan been struggling for form in this campaign overall, they have not had the best of luck in the northeast over the years. They have a record of 1 win, 6 losses and 5 draws in Premier League contests over the last several years.
Newcastle's back line will look to rebound (as such) from conceding 2 goals for the first time this season in the league, while Wigan are conceding at a rate of nearly 2 goals per game. Ali Al Habsi has done what he can in the nets for the Latics, however I kind of have to view this all together in this particular instance. Straight up I think Krul edges Al Habsi, but especially once the back lines are factored in. Where our back line has been inked in all season, there has been some flux and need to put players out of position for Wigan. I think the real question in preview regarding the defenses is: will Davide Santon start? Edge: Newcastle
I don't think that it is a stretch to say that the Newcastle midfield passed their first real test and compared well to Tottenham's midfield of stars. If we're being honest,it may be the midfield that is the most deserving of the accolades that are being heaped on the defense. In their 2-1 home loss to Tottenham earlier in the season, Scott Parker exerted tremendous influence on the match from the center of midfield. It would seem that Tiote and Cabaye will likely be able to do the same. Edge: Newcastle
Wigan will get back Hugo Rodallega back healthy, and he will play the advanced striker role in the 4-4-1-1 that Roberto Martinez has been preferring following an abandoned experiment in 4-3-3. This is good news for the Latics, but the fact remains that their offense has sputtered at best this term, netting 6 times in 8 matches. On the other hand, Demba Ba keeps on scoring. Much like the defense, if there's much discussion in this one it is whether AP will tweak the lineup at all-- will Shola get a start ahead of Leon Best? Though Leon's goals have dried up a bit, he does seem to mesh well with Demba. Edge: Newcastle
Tale of the Tape and what happens when someone without clairvoyance tries to tell the future:
Everything about this match seems to indicate that Newcastle should do the business this weekend and come away with all three points. We are talking about Newcastle, however (and Wigan did take a point away from St. James' last year). Wigan are coming in with a 100% health record for the match, so this match may be critical to Roberto Martinez regarding his future employment with Wigan Athletic.
Newcastle United FC
Currently: 4th place, 4-4-0, 16 pts
Out: Mike Williamson (/arm)
Projected XI: Krul | Santon, STaylor, Coloccini, RTaylor | Obertan, Tiote, Jonas | Ben Arfa | Best, Ba
Projected Subs: Elliot, Ferguson, Marveaux, Cabaye, Sammy, Lovenkrands, Shola
Currently: 19th place,1-2-5, 5 pts
Projected XI: Al Habsi | Boyce, Caldwell, Alcaraz, Figueroa | Diame, Jones, Watson, McCarthy | Moses | Rodallega
Projected subs: Pollitt, Maloney, McArthur, Sammon, Crusat, Di Santo, Gohouri
Prediction guaranteed to be wrong:
Newcastle 2 - 0 Wigan Athletic