Newcastle United-Swansea City Preview
LONDON (SE) - An ebullient Swansea City will return to the business of the Premier League after winning the club's first trophy when they meet Newcastle United at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.
A festive atmosphere awaits the high-flying Swans at the Liberty after their five-star display in a 5-0 thrashing of fourth-tier Bradford at Wembley Stadium last Sunday in the League Cup final.
Nathan Dyer and Jonathan de Guzman each scored twice against their 10-man opponents as Swansea City cruised to their first trophy in the club's 101-year history. The Swans are guaranteed a spot in the Europa League.
"The first trophy is always special and next year in Europe will be a nice experience,'' said Swansea manager Michael Laudrup. the Denmark great.
Laudrup's managerial stock has risen immeasurably, and he is being tipped as a possible candidate for Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The manager wants to return his side's focus to the league, where the Swans are on 37 points in ninth place.
"We still have 11 games to go and each one will have its own story," Laudrup told Swansea City's official website. "We have to play the top five and teams who are struggling at the bottom."
The Swans have smashed in 16 goals over their last six league home fixtures as they look to complete a double over the Magpies, having won 2-1 at St. James' Park on Nov. 17 behind goals from Michu and de Guzman.
Michu is in rarefied air as one of the Premier League's top goal scorers. The Spanish striker's haul of 15 ties him for third with Tottenham Hotspur's Gareth Bale, behind only Robin van Persie of Manchester United and Luis Suarez of Liverpool.
Newcastle will present a different side than the one from the last meeting with Demba Ba having departed and Moussa Sissoko among five additions in January for the Magpies. Papiss Cisse is also available after he was banned by FIFA from the November fixture for failing to report for international duty with Senegal.
"They have had some very good results recently, including a win against Chelsea, and they signed five players in January," said Laudrup about Newcastle.
The Magpies eased relegation fears with last Sunday's 4-2 home victory over Southampton. Newcastle are in 13th place on 30 points - six above the drop.
Pardew's side have one win in 13 away league matches, and remain without injured goalkeeper Tim Krul - expected to miss up to five weeks with an ankle injury. Fabricio Coloccini is doubtful after the Argentina defender was injured last weekend.
"If you'd taken him and Tim out of the team six weeks ago we wouldn't have a chance of winning this game," Pardew told Newcastle's official website. "But as it is now, we're a different proposition. We've got much deep strength and of course we've still got a great chance of winning without them."
Hatem Ben Arfa remains out since December due to a hamstring injury for the Magpies, who have used the most players in the Premier League (29).
Newcastle have bagged 10 goals over their last four league fixtures. Sissoko has been the inspiration with three goals and two assists.