Newcastle v Swans: The big talking points
Carlos Carvalhal looks to make it two wins in two away Premier League games as Swansea City boss when his team go to Newcastle United this weekend.
The Swans remain in desperate need of points as they look to pull clear of relegation danger, but can expect a difficult test against Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle side.
Keep up the good work
Carvalhal has managed to build a bit of momentum since taking charge a fortnight ago – now the challenge is to keep that going.
The former Sheffield Wednesday manager’s Swans reign got off to the perfect start when that late Luciano Narsingh goal gave his side victory at Watford.
Next came an encouraging performance against Spurs, when the Swans were unfortunate to lose, before last weekend’s gritty cup draw at Wolves.
There is still plenty of room for improvement, of course, but the Swans have made some forward strides in the last couple of weeks.
Carvalhal must try to keep the progress going on Tyneside.
Overall in the Premier League era, the Swans have tended to enjoy their games against Newcastle.
However, their most recent encounters with the Magpies have been much less satisfying.
In the first nine meetings of the clubs at Premier League level, there were six Swans wins and only one Newcastle success.
But Benitez masterminded a 1-0 win at the Liberty in the early stages of this season, while Newcastle cruised to a 3-0 success over Francesco Guidolin’s Swans shortly before they were relegated in 2016.
Will Newcastle make it a hat-trick of wins this weekend, or can Carvalhal’s side change the record?
Right answer at right-back?
The Swans again have a problem on the right side of their defence as Kyle Naughton completes his three-match ban.
Angel Rangel is set to miss out because of the calf injury he picked up last week, meaning there could be no senior right-back available for the trip to the North East.
What are Carvalhal’s options? Connor Roberts is a contender to play having done a solid job on debut against Wolves.
Alternatively, the Swans could deploy one of their four central defenders on the right, or ask a midfielder to drop back.
It will be an interesting call.
Former Swan Jonjo Shelvey has not been a fixture in the Newcastle side this season, thanks in part to two red cards, and was an unused substitute in the 1-0 win at the Liberty back in September.
But as Swans fans know, he is a player with the quality to change games.
He has started three of the last four games – and came on as a substitute in the other one – and scored his first goal of the campaign in last weekend’s Emirates FA Cup victory over Luton.
Presumably he will feature against the Swans, who must not give him the time and space to do damage.
Wilfried Bony, who scored twice in the Swans’ win at Newcastle in 2014, is in contention to play in the league for the first time in almost a month after making his comeback from a hamstring injury at Wolves last weekend.
Carvalhal again has concerns over Tammy Abraham, but Ki Sung-Yueng and Leon Britton come back into the fold after rejoining full training this week while Leroy Fer is free to play after his red card at Wolves was overturned.
The Swans need as many players as possible available right now, so the imminent returns of some influential performers are most welcome.
Having led Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first time of asking last season, Benitez looked like overseeing another impressive campaign after his team banked four wins in the first nine top-flight games of 2017-18.
They then went nine matches without a victory, however, leading to concerns about the prospect of a relegation battle.
But Newcastle have bounced back to form in recent weeks, taking seven points from their last four league games – with the one defeat coming against Manchester City – and progressing in the cup.
The Swans must look to halt that charge on Saturday.