Opposition Focus: Newcastle United

Craven Cottage, Sunday 12th May @ 3PM


04/05/19 – Newcastle 2-3 Liverpool
27/04/19 – Brighton 1-1 Newcastle
20/04/19 – Newcastle 3-1 Southampton
12/04/19 – Leicester 0-1 Newcastle
06/04/19 – Newcastle 0-1 C Palace


Newcastle have done exactly what many would expect of a team under the auspices of Rafa Benitez – despite the chronic mismanagement of Mike Ashley – and achieved enough points to survive another season in the Premier League. The style may not be overly sophisticated in attack but a number of teams this season have proved that is an easier problem to overcome than having a defence which can’t perform its basic duties. Newcastle have switched between a back three and a back four throughout the season and looked to have become more dynamic since the January arrival of the Paraguayan midfielder Miguel Almiron, who misses the match with an injury sustained against Southampton. Newcastle will likely sit slightly deeper away from home and look to punish us on the break and in set-piece situations in what has the potential to be a difficult afternoon.

Battle to watch

Perez vs Chambers: One of the most inform players for Newcastle over the last games – Perez has added to his goal tally to take him to over the 10 goal mark this season. With the physical presence of Rondon occupying defenders in front of him, Perez has found space in between the lines of midfield and defence and crafted good opportunities for both himself and his teammates. With Anguissa given slightly more license to stray from protecting the back four, responsibility will fall on Calum Chambers to snuff out the dangerous situations Perez is likely to create.

Danger Man

After the end to last season and beginning to this enjoyed by Mitro, there was a school of thought that Newcastle had let a good player leave and not adequately replaced him. But after a slow start, Salomon Rondon has proved pivotal both in terms of his output but also general contribution to the team as a looming physical presence and also a forward blessed with a solid technique and array of finishing. If he is in the mood to finish his loan spell on a high then our two centre backs will have a difficult game.

Last 5 Meetings

22/12/18 – Newcastle 0-0 Fulham
11/03/17 – Newcastle 1-3 Fulham
05/08/16 – Fulham 1-0 Newcastle
15/03/14 – Fulham 1-0 Newcastle
31/08/13 – Newcastle 1-0 Fulham


Fulham wins 31
Draws 14
Newcastle wins 27

Stats & Facts

  • Fulham are unbeaten in the last four meetings with Newcastle, winning three and drawing one.
  • The home side have kept clean sheets in five of the last six meetings between the clubs. The exception was Fulham’s 3-1 Championship win at St James’ Park in March 2017 when Tom Cairney and Ryan Sessegnon (2) were on target for the visitors.
  • The Whites have won their last six home games against Newcastle, and eight of the last nine. Current Fulham caretaker manager Scott Parker played for both clubs during this run of matches.
  • The sides drew 0-0 at St James’ Park in this season’s reverse fixture in December. That result is Fulham’s only goalless draw of the campaign, and they have not had one at Craven Cottage in the league since the opening day of 2011-12 when the welcomed Aston Villa, 166 games ago.
  • Fulham have won 12 Premier League games against Newcastle, their joint-most against a club along with Bolton Wanderers.
  • Fulham won six of their 13 final day fixtures during their first spell in the Premier League – all of them without conceding a goal.

Players in Common

Phillipe Albert, Peter Beardsley, Dave Beasant, Roy Bentley, Paul Bracewell, Viv Busby, Lee Clark, Andy Cole, Damien Duff, Alain Goma, Danny Guthrie, Aaron Hughes, Shefki Kuqi, Malcolm MacDonald, Aleksander Mitrovic, Alan Neilson, Scott Parker, Wayne Routledge, Louis Saha.

Magic Moment

Ex-Fulham player and Manager and of course staunch Geordie Sir Bobby Robson brought his Toon Army to Craven Cottage in our inaugural Premiership season in November 2001, but it was an ex Newcastle player who stole the headlines for Fulham. Sporting a bleach blonde mop, Louis Saha bent an absolute worldie into the top corner of the net at the Putney End giving Shay Given no chance after 20 minutes.

Sylvain Legwinski doubled the lead before Gary Speed pulled one back for the visitors, but Barry Hayles put the gloss on a fine Fulham performance to make it 3-1 with 20 minutes to go. There was even time for Van der Sar to save a Shearer penalty before the game ended, but the real star of the show was Saha

Opposition View (@NUFCblogcouk)

Are the fans expecting Rafa to stay and commit to the club or will he walk?

He wants to stay, that’s clear. He’s looking for Mike Ashley and co. to give him any reason to stay, but as it stands it’s not clear if the powers that be will compromise. After all, he doesn’t want to be involved in another relegation battle and rightly so. I think we’re somewhere in the middle. He made some positive comments on his future last week, suggesting there’d been progress during talks, but on the flip side we hear that Ashley doesn’t want to sanction a permanent deal for Salomon Rondon as he’s ‘too old’ and lacks ‘sell on value’. That says it all when you consider he’s just been named our player of the season! He’d love to stay, we’re desperate for him to stay but it’ll come down to Ashley’s ability to compromise and show more ambition, unfortunately – and that’s worrying!

You are guaranteed to end the season between 13th-15th place in the table. Is this a fair reflection of the squad you have or is Rafa really a ‘miracle worker’? As he claimed keeping you up would be a miracle, only a few months ago.

I’m somewhere in the middle on this. There’s no doubt it was an absolute miracle for him to get us 10th last summer with a squad last season (we had Joselu up top and so many Championship players) however I look at our side now and see several players who should be playing in a top 10 side. That said, Rafa is the reason we look so solid – we don’t concede fewer goals than Man Utd and Arsenal without Benitez. Right now I’d say it’s about right that we’re finishing around 13-15th unfortunately, but Steve McClaren did get a more talented group of players relegated – with him having the likes of Wijnaldum, Coloccini, Sissoko, Thauvin and Townsend the year we went down.

Off the back of the bizarre free-kick awarded to Liverpool last weekend involving Fabinho, are you looking forward to VAR being in the Premier League next season?

I am mixed on this one. There’s no doubt that VAR will make sure any big mistakes and contentious decisions don’t get missed, but one thing I hate about it is the fact it makes you think twice about celebrating a goal, with it having to be checked before it’s officially given. Overall though, it’s only right that it’s introduced given how many bad calls and costly errors we see from referees every week.

Who’s been your best & most disappointing players this season?

The best? Rondon. He’s not only scored 11 goals and bagged 8 assists, but he’s consistently lead the line brilliantly. He can hold the ball up, link the play, run the channels and is a constant presence and real handful. Schar has been brilliant and can go on some incredible mazy runs from the back, Isaac Hayden has been arguably our most consistent player of 2019 (watch out for his crunching tackles!) and Perez has been in incredible form recently too, with his flurry of goals since the turn of the year making him our top scorer on 12 goals. As for flops, Kenedy is one of the main candidates. He was brilliant for us from January onwards last season, but he’s been awful this time around and is unlikely to play as a result. He’s got skill and flare, but his decisions making and final product have been woeful. Shelvey has been a big disappointment this season too. Injuries have cost him, but Ki may even get the nod over him on Sunday, with Rafa consistently leaving him out the side of late.

How do you see the game panning out?

You’ve actually found some form recently so I see you playing pretty well and aiming to end the season on a high. I see you’re 6th in the form table, so even though a few of our fans may be expecting a routine win, I think it’ll be a close affair. We’ll no doubt get men behind the ball, aim to frustrate you and limit service into Mitrovic then counter when we can.

Score Prediction: 1-1

Predicted Line-up: (Preferred NUFC XI) (3-4-2-1) Dubravka; Schar, Lascelles, Dummett; Manquillo, Hayden, Ki, Ritchie; Perez, Atsu; Rondon.

Almiron being out for the season is a big miss – he’s been electric down our left-hand side since he signed in January. He could’ve given Odoi real problems

Thanks to the guys at NUFCblog.co.uk for answering our questions. Check out their preview of Sunday’s match on their website.

Match Prediction

It’s hardly ended up being Portsmouth away in terms of significance and there will be some fans checking phones to see what is happening in Liverpool and Brighton to decide the title. But a last day of the season gives the players the chance to at least sign off positively and a run of four wins out of five would definitely do that. A 1-1 draw probably seems more realistic.h Prediction

Predicted line-up