March 2 2014 was, in large parts, a pretty average day for most people. Pharrell’s hit-tune Happy was still at the point where it was catchy rather than painfully overplayed, Harry Redknapp was enjoying his 67th birthday, and Newcastle’s season came to an abrupt end.
The Magpies were sat on 45 points, 19 clear from relegation and 14 off the final Champions League spot. It was very unlikely that in the final 10 games of the season they would be able to make a serious challenge for fourth, but it was equally unlikely that they would get sucked into a relegation scrap. Their season was pretty much done and dusted, and it’s been glaringly obvious since then.
Alan Pardew made sure he had a few weekends free to do some holiday shopping by ‘head-pushing’ Hull midfielder David Meyler, while the rest of the team appear to spend their Saturday’s contemplating whether they’d rather be papped falling out of a nightclub in Ibiza or strolling down a beach in Barbados.
Since March 2, Newcastle have won just one game from six – a 1-0 home win over Tony Pulis’ Crystal Palace. And if the results of those other five games isn’t bad enough, the manner of the defeats is depressing for the Toon Army. In those six games they’ve been thumped 4-0 by Manchester United, 4-0 by Southampton and 3-0 by Everton.
The Geordies have scored just once in those six games, but conceded a whopping 13. Although they have racked up 81 attempts on goal, just 25 per cent of Newcastle’s efforts have been on target and their one goal gives the side a conversion rate of just 1.2 per cent.
While the Magpies are already in their flip-flops, Swansea are in the thick of a Championship-scrap, and if they want to avoid any trips to Elland Road or the Riverside next season, they’ll need to pick up some points.
It’s not wise to make a habit of backing sides who have won just one of their last nine league games, but Swansea might be an exception at 17/10. Their record in the last nine games doesn’t read well, but in that time they have held Arsenal and Stoke to draws away from home and been beaten by just the single goal against Everton, Liverpool and Chelsea.
The Swans can also boast about winning the last three head to heads against Newcastle, and with Alan Pardew’s side distracted by the latest cheap flights to Magaluf, this weekend might be the one to side with the Welsh side.