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Swansea v Newcastle preview

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Surgery on a hernia and a fairly gloomy transfer window will have done nothing to lift the mood of Newcastle boss Rafa Benitez, and a trip to Swansea might not be the tonic he’s after, either.

It’s still unclear whether or not the Spaniard will make the trip to South Wales after going under the knife but watching 90 minutes of this – from home or the dugout – might be even more painful than what he’s just endured in theatre.

Swansea and Newcastle have looked tepid this season, though at least they each start their fourth outing with a win on the board having triumphed on the weekend before the international break.

Paul Clement is probably the happier of the two bosses having offset the inevitable defections of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente by bringing in Renato Sanches and Wilfried Bony. Newcastle’s window, by contrast, was virtually non-existent and Benitez has been visibly unimpressed.

Swansea are 17-12 favourites and just about get the nod.

The Swans have improved over three games. They went for a bunker approach at Southampton and got away with a 0-0 draw and were competitive enough for long periods against Manchester United before disintegrating. A decent-enough 2-0 win at Palace adds up to four points.

The Toon lost their first two matches but hit back with a commendable 3-0 success against West Ham, who were dreadful.

Negatives for the Magpies are the suspension picked up by Alexander Mitrovic and an injury to Chancel Mbemba. Newcastle are short of options up front as it is with Dwight Gayle seemingly out of favour and Mbemba is a class act at the back.

Clement must decide whether or not to play Sanches and Bony after they arrived at the club on Thursday but simply signing the two men (certainly Sanches) is a real fillip.

Clement has provocatively suggested that Swansea could actually be better without Sigurdsson, who was such a central figure to their revival last term, but Sanches does offer plenty of options if he can find his feet.

It’s anyone’s guess how he’ll eventually slot into Clement’s side, but then it’s anyone’s guess how Swansea will line up from week to week under their manager, who is nothing if not adaptable.

It’s hard to be bullish about either side and one or both teams not to score is surely worthy of consideration. Ten of Swansea’s last 13 have seen at least one team fail notch while each of Newcastle’s last five in the league has done likewise.

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Match in Focus

20:00 TODAY SSMI

Espanyol v Girona

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Girona have conceded seven goals in their last four away league games
Expert verdict
Espanyol are a top striker short of being a La Liga success - they have scored just 11 goals this season - but they are solid enough on home soil and can see off travelling Girona. The visitors have lost just one their six away matches this term but they squandered a two-goal lead at home to struggling Alaves last time out and defensively have plenty to prove.