Newcastle head to Craven Cottage on Saturday afternoon for the first of three games in which Magpies manager Alan Pardew is banned from entering the stadium following his head-butt on Hull’s David Meyler in their last Premier League outing.
They’ll also be without top goal scorer Loic Remy and midfield maverick Hatem Ben Arfa, who’s bagged two goals in his last three games against the London club, leaving stand-in manager John Carver wondering where the goals will come from on Saturday.
Having expressed his relief at remaining in a job following his reckless indiscipline at the KC Stadium, Pardew will not be allowed at the ground at all this weekend as part of his record seven-game ban (three stadium, four touchline) handed down by the FA on Tuesday. With their Premier League survival already ensured and qualification to the Europa League an outside possibility, if ever there was a good time to receive such a punishment, it would probably be now.
Fulham would probably echo those sentiments given the must-win nature of this game for the Cottagers. Having sacked Rene Meulensteen last month, Felix Magath is now the man charged with rescuing the club from the perils of Championship football. However, if their performance at the Cardiff City Stadium is anything to go by, a miracle may be the only thing that stops them falling through the trap door.
The arrival of Newcastle in west London should be something Fulham fans relish, though, having won their last four home meetings including a 5-2 rout two years ago. A 90th-minute Ben Arfa wonder strike was the only difference between the two clubs at St. James’ Park earlier on in the campaign, and with the Frenchman injured and no Pardew around; Magath will know three vital points are there for the taking.
KICK-OFF: Saturday, 3pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Newcastle (Ben Arfa) 1-0 Fulham
Newcastle (Cisse) 1-0 Fulham
Fulham (Sidwell, Rodallega) 2-1 Newcastle (Ben Arfa)
Fulham have won the last four against the Toon Army at Craven Cottage
Newcastle haven’t done the double over the Cottagers since the 2008/09 season, when a 90th minute Joey Barton penalty won the visitors all three points
Three of Newcastle’s last five wins against Fulham have come courtesy of an injury-time winner
Fulham have failed to win any of their last nine league fixtures, while Newcastle have won their last two
The home side could be six points adrift of safety this Saturday evening if they’re beaten
Fulham to win: 2.87
Newcastle to win: 3.5
TV: Highlights on BBC One, 10.30pm Saturday
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