The Magpies will be looking to cement their position in the top four, while Marco Silva’s men will aim to continue their stunning surge up the table, sitting in a lofty position of sixth at the time of writing.
Eddie Howe’s men will be approaching this fixture with a lot of confidence and optimism following their Carabao cup success in midweek, as victory over a struggling Leicester City secured a first semi-final appearance for 18 years, in 2005.
A result which ended their three-match winless streak, putting the gloss over a shock FA Cup third-round loss to Sheffield Wednesday last weekend.
Newcastle are only clinging to a top-four spot, following successive 0-0 draws against Leeds United on home turf and an impressive draw at the Emirates against league leaders Arsenal.
The Magpies can significantly boast about their unmatched defensive record in the league. Eleven goals conceded from 18 matches remains the best record in the division, as their very settled back four have kept a whopping 10 clean sheets at this stage already.
All the other sides around them in the top five play each other this weekend in the North London and Manchester derbies, so this fixture presents a great opportunity for Newcastle to regain some ground on their top-of-the-table rivals.
However, they face a tough and resurgent Fulham side buoyed by their superb London-derby triumph over Chelsea in midweek.
In Aleksandr Mitrovic’s absence, Carlos Vinicius impressed scoring the winning goal as Andreas Pereira produced another wonderful assist, while Bernd Leno put in another stellar performance in goal.
The Cottagers are one of the most in-form sides since the Premier League resumption from the World Cup, winning all their games in all competitions – including a FA Cup third-round triumph over Championship side Hull City.
Silva’s men are just four points off the top four and an away win here will cut the gap between the teams above them to just one point, so there is a lot riding this game for both sides, which means it will certainly be an intriguing and captivating battle.
WHERE & WHEN?
Venue: St James’ Park.
Date: Sunday, 15th January 2023.
Time: 15:00 PM.
Referee: Robert Jones.
Assistant referee: Lee Betts, Ian Hussin.
Fourth official: Graham Scott.
VAR: Graham Scott.
Assistant VAR: Adrian Holmes.
Howe went with a full-strength squad against Leicester City in the EFL Cup quarter-final, so they aren’t expected to ring the changes against Fulham.
Allan Saint-Maximin has returned to full fitness but cannot get a game before the team’s form. However, he may start here following Joelinton’s drink-driving ban, which Howe said midweek that the Brazilian may not be in the right frame of mind following his disappointment.
Alexander Isak is also fit after returning from injury last weekend against Sheffield Wednesday to start the first half and also had a brief cameo against the Foxes in midweek, but Callum Wilson will be expected to keep his place this Sunday.
Jonjo Shelvey, Emil Krafth and Matt Targett remain long-term injury absentees for the hosts.
For Fulham, Mitrovic will return from suspension here against his former club, and despite Vinicius’s impressive performance and winner against Chelsea, the Serbian is expected to return into the starting XI.
Antonee Robinson picked up his fifth booking of the season on Thursday, so the left-back will be banned which allows Paris Saint-Germain loanee Layvin Kurzawa to come straight in.
A match-up of two teams playing tremendous football so far this season. Both managers Eddie Howe and Marco Silva deserve tremendous credit for where they’ve taken their respective sides so far in this campaign. What’s all the more impressive is that both clubs’ form isn’t just down to luck or even positive vibes but down to the progressive tactics of both managers.
Both Newcastle and Fulham have recruited expertly well last summer, and they are reaping the benefits.
The signings of Bruno Guimaraes, Kieran Trippier, Nick Pope, Dan Burn and Sven Botman have transformed the Toon’s fortunes, especially in defence where they’ve only conceded just 11 goals all season in the Premier League. It’s no accident that the Magpies sit in 3rd position at the time of writing, with 35 points from a possible 54.
The same can be said of Fulham who are evolving into a steady and cohesive Premier League side, no longer can they be considered a yo-yo club, by the looks of things. They are here to stay, and again their lofty position of sixth place on 31 points certainly takes some stopping. They’ve also scored the same amount of goals the Toon have so far this season (32) which makes for stunning reading.
Marco Silva has certainly been the major factor, improving the players he got promoted with tactically and mentally, but one of his signings that has been central to everything good about the West Londoners has indeed been Joao Palhinha. Because of the Portuguese stalwart, the Cottagers are a different kettle of fish. They’re more resilient, spirited, dogged and a tough side to overcome as Chelsea found out in midweek, and they have a certain Serbian up-front proving that he’s got what it takes to become a devastating goalscorer in the English top-flight, scoring an astonishing 11 goals already.
Newcastle’s form won’t scare Silva and his men one bit, so expect them to continue their front-foot style at St James’ Park on Sunday, which means we are in for another stunning Premier League this weekend.
It isn’t always about the Manchester and North London derbies, you know.
Eddie Howe has so far fostered such a cohesive and dominant unit that every player in his strongest XI can be considered a key player.
But one man, still remains their MVP, their most enticing and flamboyant performer on the pitch and that is the Brazilian, Bruno Guimaraes.
The 25-year-old has been nothing short of sensational during this first season in the Premier League so far, showcasing why he is one of the most complete midfielders in the division. A no.6 outlet who records three goals and three assists from 15 games has to be taken seriously, and there’s no room to be sleeping where Guimaraes is involved.
He is the glue which holds Howe’s impressively-built side together, the man they call upon to set the tone for both the defence and the attack, and the former Lyon man is doing it wall with an assuredness, swagger and confidence that makes him arguably the club’s finest recruit over the past decade.
What’s so impressive about him though, is that he doesn’t let up. He isn’t your atypical Brazilian but he is at the same time – it’s what makes him such a unique commodity in the national squad. He never gives up, he’s tenacious, aggressive and combative whilst also possessing such composed, metronomic and influential technical qualities on the ball. What a player.
No disrespect to Fulham at all, but when a player pops up and becomes one of the finest defensive midfielders in the league, he’s another one that’s gotta be taken seriously. And there is no doubt that Palhinha is up there with the likes of Casemiro and Rodri as one of the best DM’s in the league.
While that comment may come as controversial, when you watch how the Portuguese enforcer struts his stuff in his first season in the Premier League, then you’d understand why that assessment had to be said. In fact, the stats tells you all you need to know about this player.
What do you want your no.6 or defensive midfielder to do? It’s probably to keep things ticking in possession, but more crucially, to break up opposition attacks and shield the back four isn’t it? Well, Palhinha is one of the best, if not the best at performing such. The 27-year-old has recorded the most tackles in the Premier League (83) and in Europe’s top-five leagues, the same can be said for tackles won (47). Agree to disagree, the stats show that Palhinha is the best-performing defensive midfielder in Europe. To add to all that, he’s still managed to record three goals so far this campaign.
A Fulham player exerting stats such as those is simply astonishing. Again, no disrespect to the Cottagers.
It’s any wonder Palhinha doesn’t start for Portugal on a regular basis, it simply doesn’t make sense.
Newcastle United’s predicted XI v Fulham: Pope (GK); Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; S Longstaff, Bruno Guimaraes, Willock; Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin.
Fulham’s predicted XI vs Newcastle: Leno (GK); Tete, Adarabioyo, Ream, Kurzawa; Palhinha, Reed, Decordova-Reid, Andreas Pereira, Willian; Mitrovic.