The festive season beginning with a frustrating 1-1 draw against Aston Villa, Newcastle fans ‘look forward’ to a busy Christmas fixture list to round off 2015.
But does history suggest there will be Christmas joy or despair over the next few games? Over this decade so far, it has been a mixed but ultimately disappointing affair for Newcastle. Of course, Alan Pardew has presided over every Christmas programme since taking over in 2010 from Chris Hughton.
Pardew’s first game resulted in a 3-1 home win over Liverpool in December 2010, a victory followed by a tough run of fixtures. A 3-1 Boxing Day defeat at Manchester City and a 2-0 reverse at Spurs dampened Christmas spirit. Though Shola Ameobi’s winner at Wigan (1-0) was an unexpected victory to begin 2011 with, given Newcastle’s awful record at the DW Stadium.
A 2-0 Boxing Day victory at Bolton was sandwiched in between defeats to West Brom (2-3) and Liverpool (3-1), but 2012 began with a resounding 3-0 demolition of Manchester United at St James Park, which included Yohan Cabaye’s memorable free kick.
A 1-0 victory over QPR was the best it got for Newcastle United over Christmas 2012. Boxing Day resulted in a 4-3 defeat at Old Trafford to Manchester United, followed by a 7-3 thumping at Arsenal. A 2-1 defeat to Everton rounded off an awful period, with Newcastle ravaged by injury and suspension.
A cracking 3-0 victory over Crystal Palace put Newcastle in the driving seat in 2013. They followed up victory over Palace with a 5-1 drubbing of Stoke City on Boxing Day at St James Park. Stoke’s 2 red cards proved crucial turning points in a game where the Potters were perhaps the better side for long periods. Drab 1-0 defeats to Arsenal and West Brom finished off the Christmas programme after an encouraging start.
Finally, last season saw the end of Alan Pardew’s reign at Newcastle, rounded off by a 3-2 victory over Everton at St James Park. That would be Newcastle’s only victory over the festive period, which began with a 1-0 defeat (as per usual) to Sunderland. Boxing Day resulted in a 3-1 defeat at Man Utd, whilst the New Year opened with a 3-3 draw at home to Burnley in John Carver’s first match in charge.
PLAYED: 20 | WON: 8 | DREW: 1 | LOST: 11 |
GOALS FOR: 36 | AGAINST: 35
WIN PERCENTAGE: 40%/25 points from 60
So a Christmas/New Year record that reflects Newcastle United as a club…unpredictable, inconsistent and ultimately average. But history also suggests goals are in store. Following the draw with Villa, next up for Newcastle is Everton at home on Boxing Day.
With Papiss Cisse injured, either Ayoze Perez or more likely Aleksandar Mitrovic will get the chance to lead the line for Newcastle.
Whilst Siem de Jong’s fitness is still some way off, the leadership and calmness he brings to the team should not be overlooked.
Additionally, following Florian Thauvin’s cameo against Villa, now could be the time for the French winger to come into the team, moving Gini Wijnaldum to the centre and going without the services of 2 holding midfielders in Jack Colback/Vurnon Anita.
Newcastle certainly lack balance, clearly evident by the number of times the team attack down the right via Moussa Sissoko and Daryl Janmaat, as opposed to the left (or centre).
Paul Dummett’s position in the team could also be in question, following his struggles facing Gerard Deulofeu previously. Kevin Mbabu awaits another chance to impress.
The 2015 festive fixtures are then rounded off with tough trips to West Brom and Arsenal. Newcastle have not won more than 50% of their games over the Christmas/New Year period since 2010, and even an optimist would struggle to see Newcastle improving this record.
Let’s hope festive cheer is in full flow come 7.30pm on Boxing Day.
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