Injuries, fatigue, and that blasted pesky Europa League. I could be talking about Newcastle United’s horrific season last season, but the same could be said for Swansea City’s European forays this season. With injuries sustained to top players like Michu, Bony, Rangel as well as a relatively slow start to the Premier League, one could easily draw comparisons between the two sides.
I have never been a fan of the excuse that the Europa League is a hindrance to a side’s Premier League form, and that with adequate investment and preparation for the new season you can compete on all fronts, and I would still stand by that. While early season form seems to show that Swansea are suffering from the same European hangovers that affected us last season, I still think Swansea will come back into form and sit in around mid-table by the end of the season. For a team only in their 3rd season of top-flight football, while balancing their first ever European competition on top of that, I would class that success.
However, I am a Newcastle fan, not a Swansea fan (despite my admiration for their set-up) and of course I would like to think that Newcastle United can sweep aside any notion of resurgence from Swansea City by beating them tonight. Newcastle United are on a terrific run of form having won their last 4 games, while in contrast Swansea have only won 1 game at home this season, a 4-0 win against the unwashed. With that in mind, one could be forgiven for thinking that Newcastle United are in with a great chance to make it 5 wins on the bounce and further continue their impressive recent form.
With that mindset comes a risk attached. Complacency on the terraces is bad enough, but if that complacency creeps into our play we could see Swansea come out with a point to prove. There is also the consideration that needs to be given to team selection. Do we keep our winning side together and rotate for Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford or do we gamble by rotating tonight, and gun it with fresh legs to properly attack an eminently beatable Manchester United and secure our first victory at Old Trafford in 40 years?
In past months I would not have trusted Pardew to make the right call, but other than the decision to drop M’biwa for Coloccini in our last game against West Brom, I do think Pardew has got team selections (and formations) largely spot on, and while the lingering sour taste of the derby defeat has not gone in its entirety, with a win tonight, and momentum going into this weekend’s huge game against Manchester United, Pardew could well find more and more clambering back on to the Pardew bandwagon. He still has some ways to go before I will be personally convinced, but he is getting there.
So is now the right time to face Swansea? I would say yes it is, but let’s keep it tight at the back and do a professional job. It will be interesting if, following a defeat, Laudrup comes out in his post-match press conference and says ‘We was tired…’
What do you think?