The history between Fulham and Newcastle is not even remotely close to being remarkable. Both teams have met just 76 times throughout history, and their series started all the way back in 1908. For those counting at home, it’s been 115 years since then yielding an average of less than one meeting per season between Cottagers and Magpies.
That’s only partially true, though, because the first two games between these two clubs happened in 1908 and 1910 (both FA Cup ties won by Newcastle by a combined 10-0), and then there were no affairs until 1934. Even then, the average still falls short of one in the ‘34-’23 span.
There will be two interesting storylines around this Sunday’s game, though.
First of all, Newcastle is facing Fulham to tie the series between the two at 31 wins apiece. Fulham currently leads 31-30 with 15 draws between both clubs. Recent history sides with the Magpies, though, as they’ve won three of the last five games drawing the other two—all of those five outings taking place in the English top-flight division.
Fulham have not defeated the Toon since they did so back in Mar. 2017 as part of a second-division, Championship clash. Things have changed a lot since then.
That brings us to the second point of interest to watch at St James’ Park today: the return of Aleksander Mitrovic to SJP since he last did in Dec. 2020. The Serbian striker has been at Fulham since the winter of 2018 when Newcastle loaned him to later sell his services to the London club the following summer.
Mitrovic flopped in his two-and-a-half tenure with Newcastle. He arrived at a super-young 20 years of age, played 65 games for the Toon, and scored 33 goals. That’s definitely not a bad overall tally, mind you, but he was coming off back-to-back seasons scoring 16 and 20 goals for Belgium side Anderlecht so expectations were gaudy.
Since leaving Tyneside, and signing with Fulham, though, Mitrovic has turned into an otherworldly goalscorer. He’s hit the net 106 times in 180 matches for an average of 0.58 goals per game. Just last season, in the second division, Mitrovic broke the goalscoring record of the Championship scoring 43 goals in 44 games. Seriously.
Mitrovic played 96.5% of all possible minutes (excluding added time), yes, but that also speaks to his massive durability along with mental goalscoring prowess.
Speaking to The Athletic ($) in an interview published Sunday morning, Mitrovic showed all of his love and then some to Newcastle. Is a return (for good this time and not just for a single match, donning another club’s threads) on tap? Only time will tell, and Mitro is still a “young” 27-year-old prolific forward right in the middle of his prime.
“It didn’t work out (at Newcastle) but that doesn’t mean I didn’t stay in a good relationship with the club and everyone there.”
“I was young. I played under a manager who had a defensive style of football. But I never had any problem with the club or the fans.”
“They loved me there. They respected the way I played and they knew I gave everything for the club. I have only the best possible words for everyone at Newcastle.”
“They gave me the chance to play in the Premier League, aged 20. It’s a massive club and I still support them.”
“Everything that’s happened there, with the new owner and all the money, it’s fully deserved for the fans. They are the best in England, maybe in the world.”
If only could Newcastle use a lineup with three at the front—Wilson, Isak, and Mitrovic—then we might be looking at a first-place team instead of a... fourth-place squad! Color me shocked!
That’s correct. Man Utd dealt with fellow Mancunian Citizens on Saturday, jumped over NUFC on the Premier League table, and bunched the top-four teams into a tiny nine-point bracket. A win by your Magpies today would see Howe’s lads move up to third again just one point off Man City in second place, and six from Arsenal (still to play Tottenham today, though).
If the Spurs can beat or just draw Arsenal in their Sunday Showdown that’d be phenomenal news for Newcastle, and both London clubs will kick their game off knowing what Newcastle did against Fulham as they play on the latest slate of games scheduled for today.
Eddie Howe spoke to the media on Friday providing some fresh takes on Newcastle’s state of affairs just hours before today’s game.
You can read everything Howe had to say here, as part of our pre-match coverage.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Cottagers are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Shelvey (calf), Krafth (knee), Targett (foot)
- Doubtful: Joelinton (discipline)
- I don’t think I need to bring the whole Joelinton DUI-drama to the table at this point. Not because it is not important, nor impactful, not perhaps worrying, but rather because you have already read all about it and know the implications. We have you covered here if that’s not the case.
- Nick Pope is staying put under the goalposts with a goalie probably getting sold through the next couple of weeks—unless Loris Karius gets released or just leaves the club with his six-month deal expiring in February.
- The good news about Joelinton (maybe) missing this game are obvious: there will be an open slot on the left wing up for grabs. The conundrum for Eddie Howe would be how to fill that gap assuming all three of Saint-Maximin, Wilson, and Isak are fit and fully available to play 90 minutes.
- Will Howe walk the safe route and use ASM on the left and Wilson as a lone striker? ASM and Isak? Two forwards pairing Wilson and Isak and re-structuring the rest of the team’s tactical shape? Maybe Isak on the left wing as a wide forward running through the channels and cutting inside from the touchline? Tons of options have us massively excited!
- The other main talking point should be clear, although the victory over Leicester by two goals buried it a bit: it’s been back-to-back, goalless Premier League draws for Newcastle in their two most recent games in the English top-flight division. Reason for concern?
- The elimination from the FA Cup hit hard. It was softened by the win over Leicester leading the Magpies to their first League Cup semi-final in nearly 50 years. But let’s not forget about the mediocre performances against Arsenal (reasonable) and Leeds (very not reasonable). Something has to change in the return to ELP competition.
- That “something”, though, won’t be related to using this or that player. We all know by now that the Starting XI is going to stay the same barring minimal changes going forward unless massive reinforcements come to Tyneside (say, your Tielemans or your Maddisons). Other than that, it’s going to be about the players stepping and leveling up and hitting them square into the bottom of the net. Not much more Howe can tinker with.
- We are going with a Safe Howe XI below because we know Howe and he surely must have learned from his only mistake/rotation earlier this month when he flipped eight starters and ate a huge L against Sheff Wed. Alas.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Schar - Botman - Burn
MID Longstaff - Bruno - Willock
WNG Almiron - Saint-Maximin
An unchanged starting XI.— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) January 15, 2023
HOWAY NEWCASTLE! ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/mALXMAN1fT
- Date: Sunday, January 15th
- Kick-off: 14:00 BST / 9:00 EST / 7:00 PST
- Location: St James’ Park, Newcastle (England)
- Broadcasts: Sportsnet World Now, Sportsnet World, Sportsnet Now, Sportsnet Now Plus (CAN) — Peacock (USA) — Sky Sports Main Event, Sky Sports Premier League, SKY GO Extra, Sky Ultra HD (UK)
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Howay the Lads!