Cardiff City-Newcastle United Preview

TOM BENNETT (STATS European Football Writer)
The Associated Press

Only a win will do for Cardiff City on Saturday when they travel to St James Park to play Newcastle United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Cardiff (7-9-20) were hammered 4-0 by fellow strugglers Sunderland last weekend to slip to the bottom of the Premier League with just two games remaining. The Bluebirds have won just one in seven during the run-in, which is in stark contrast to the improved results of some of the teams around them, and it is likely that only the maximum six points will be enough to give Cardiff a chance of staying in the top flight next season. Unfortunately for Solskjaer's side, their final game of the campaign is against title-chasing Chelsea.

"We go into the next two matches knowing we have to win those two," the Cardiff manager said. "It's a great challenge for everyone at the club. We need two strong performances. The most we can get is 36 points and, if we can get that, I think that will be enough to keep us up.

"Two wins that's the way back; that's the only way back. I've got to look forward to the next game, I'm built that way anyway, you don't give up until it's over. We've given ourselves a mountain to climb and we need to start climbing."

One glimmer of hope for Cardiff is their opponents Saturday are the most out-of-form team. Alan Pardew's Newcastle United have lost six straight matches on the trot and seven of their last eight, leaving them in danger of finishing outside the top half of the table - something that looked virtually impossible two months ago.

The Magpies' form is their worst in club history in the Premier League, and has led to several protests from the club's supporters against the team, Pardew and owner Mike Ashley. However, Pardew remains convinced he will still be in charge next season, and has called on the fans to get behind the team for their final home match of the campaign.

"I'm very proud to be manager of Newcastle and I always have been," said Pardew. "I'll fight for that position because I love being manager here."

"The most important thing is to try and get a stadium on Saturday that gives us a chance. We need to make sure we put in a performance in that first 20-25 minutes that gets the stadium on our side and gives us platform to try and win the game. Everyone at Newcastle, within and throughout those who support us, wants us to win - and we want to get that win for them."

Newcastle United are expected to be without the injured Luuk de Jong (ankle), Pappiss Cisse (knee), Davide Santon (hamstring), Sammy Ameobi (ankle) and Ryan Taylor (knee), while Cardiff have concerns over Andrew Taylor (knock) and are expected to be missing Craig Noone (abdominal strain) and Mark Hudson (hamstring).

Loic Remy scored twice in eight minutes to help Newcastle to a 2-1 win over Cardiff back in October. The Bluebirds marginally dominated possession in that game but managed just two shots on target compared to the Magpies' 10. Cardiff did gain a measure of revenge with a 2-1 win at St James' Park in the FA Cup third round.

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