Newcastle United are entering their last-chance saloon as they prepare to entertain Swansea at St James’ Park knowing that only a win will keep any lingering survival hopes alive.
Time is running out fast for Rafael Benitez’s side, who slumped to an abject 3-1 defeat at Southampton last time out to take their tally to one point gained from the last 21 available.
The Magpies’ total of 25 points from 32 games is easily their worst in the Premier League to date; they had 30 points at this stage in 2008/09 when they were relegated on the last day.
Recent history suggests this is not a strong time of the year for the hosts; they haven’t won in April for the past three years and have lost their last 11 games in this month.
Swansea have enjoyed their trips to Tyneside in recent years, winning on each of their last three visits to St James’ Park.
They also travel north in good form, having won four of their last six matches to take them up to the magical 40-point mark, which should secure their top-flight status for another season.
Swansea were below Newcastle when manager Francesco Guidolin took over back in mid-January, but now sit 15 points clear of their opponents ahead of this weekend’s fixture; the Swans made their managerial change at the right time, whereas for Newcastle it’s looking like a case of too little, too late.
Defender Daryl Janmaat will be missing for the hosts after picking up a hand injury from punching the dressing room wall in last weekend’s defeat at St. Mary’s, whilst club captain Fabricio Coloccini is also absent again.
Midfielder Jack Colback returns from suspension and may make up part of a makeshift back four.
The visitors have a full strength squad to pick from, with midfielder Leon Britton recovering from the back and foot injuries which kept him out of the win over Aston Villa last weekend.
League Positions: Newcastle – 19th (25 pts); Swansea – 13th (40 pts)
Previous Meeting: Swansea 2-0 Newcastle – August 15, 2015
Form: Newcastle – LLLDLL; Swansea – WWLWDW
Key Players: Newcastle – Ayoze Perez; Swansea – Gylfi Sigurdsson
Shoot Says: Newcastle 2-1 Swansea