On Saturday the 5th Newcastle will face off against Cardiff City. The Welsh side currently sit in 21st place, just one point below the drop zone, whilst the home side are sitting pretty in first place, a position the club will hope to keep for the remainder of the season. The Toon Army are 4/9 favourites for this match, whereas Cardiff are priced at 13/2 by SkyBet. Looking at current form, Rafa Benitez’s men are clear favourites with a perfect 100% ratio in their past six games. Cardiff look less impressive, having won just two of the past six matches, succumbing to three losses and earning one draw. These stats are from Sky Sports. Since Newcastle’s previous Championship campaign, the two teams have met five times. Two of those occasions have been in the Championship, two in the Premier League and the other happening in the FA Cup. Newcastle have been victorious in four of these five matches, the only loss coming in the form of a 2-1 loss in the third round of the FA Cup. Information from 11v11
Knowing Rafa Benitez, the team will be a mystery until its announcement. However, one thing will be certain; Matt Ritchie will not feature. This is due to suspension after he picked up a fifth yellow card against Preston North End. I believe that there are only two serious contenders for the vacant spot; Christian Atsu and Ayoze Perez. The Spaniard has failed to hold down a starting spot but this could be a big opportunity to give Benitez something to consider. If this were to happen, Perez would play on the left and Yoan Gouffran would switch to the right flank. If Atsu were to start he would play on the right, with Gouffran sticking to his preferred left midfield/wing position. Of course, this is assuming Gouffran plays. I would like to see Perez start as he brings an attacking threat to the team, having scored three from his five starting appearances this season. Then, Benitez could bring on Atsu as an impact substitute to bring pace into the team at a time when the opposing defence could be tired/lacking fitness.
I know I might be biased but I can’t look past a Newcastle win. Looking at this season’s results, Cardiff don’t look great with only 15 points from 15 matches. Add to that the fact that Cardiff have only won once away from home – against bottom place Rotherham who have the worst defensive record in the league, conceding 35 goals this season. Newcastle look unstoppable and are look sure to earn automatic promotion at this rate. They’ve also won eight out of their ten home matches this season. So I say Newcastle United will bag all three points in this match.
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