Newcastle United will be looking to continue their recent positive form when they face struggling Fulham at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
This will be Newcastle’s first match without Alan Pardew who was handed a seven-match suspension for attempting to headbutt Hull City midfielder David Meyler on March 1st.
Assistant manager John Carver will take the helm in Pardew’s absence. Carver’s only experience as a manager came with Toronto FC of the MLS in 2008-2009.
After a terrible start to 2014, the Magpies are coming off victories against Aston Villa and Hull City. They have not played since March 1st and should be well-rested.
Fulham are currently in last-place in the Premier League and face a difficult task to avoid relegation. This will be veteran manager Felix Magath’s fourth match in charge of the West London club.
The German manager is yet to record a win, having lost two matches and drawn the other. The Cottagers are coming off a 3-1 defeat to Cardiff City last Saturday and desperately need points.
Injuries and Suspensions
As mentioned, Newcastle boss Alan Pardew will begin serving a lengthy suspension this weekend. There is not expected to be any major changes under temporary manager John Carver who has been Pardew’s assistant since 2011.
Fabricio Coloccini, who was allowed to miss the Hull City match due to family issues, has returned to England and is expected to play against Fulham. But that is the only good news Newcastle received this week in terms of personnel.
The Magpies are expected to be without striker Loïc Rémy who has been battling an ankle injury. The news is not any better for Mathieu Debuchy. The right-back is expected to miss Saturday’s match with a groin injury.
Haten Ben Arfa and Davide Santon have missed the last few matches as well. It is still unclear whether they will be fit enough to start against Fulham.
Fulham have been hit by major injuries all season. Former Newcastle players Scott Parker and Damien Duff are both battling knee injuries and are not expected to face their old club. Ashkan Dejagah also suffered a hamstring strain last weekend against Cardiff City.
Fulham lined up in a classic 4-4-2 formation against Cardiff City, with new signing Konstantinos Mitroglou upfront alongside youngster Cauley Woodrow. But Fulham also has proven Premier League scorer Darren Bent.
Mitroglou was a proven goalscorer in the Greek Super League but has not scored in two appearances with Fulham. English midfielder Steve Sidwell leads the club in scoring with six goals.
John Carver is expected to stick with the 4-4-2 formation. If Rémy is not available, Luuk de Jong should partner with Papiss Cissé up front. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Paul Dummett will likely play if Santon and Dubuchy are not able to go.
To put it mildly, Fulham are an aging squad who concede far too many goals. They currently have the worst defensive record in the league having given up 65 goals in 29 matches. Cardiff City is next to last at 50 goals against.
Newcastle should expect to see many scoring opportunities against Fulham. The Magpies scored four goals against Hull City and appear to have regained their scoring prowess. But Newcastle have not won in their last four matches at Craven Cottage, a run going back to December 2007.
Fulham have lost 14 of their last 18 matches at Craven Cottage. While Newcastle have won four of their last five matches in the city of London. Injuries are a worry for John Carver’s side but the Magpies are still a far better side than their hosts.
Fulham 1 – 3 Newcastle United