Newcastle vs Norwich: Hughton won’t enjoy return
Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa have scored all of Newcastle's goals this season
After leading relegated Newcastle back to the Premier League at the first attempt before being somewhat ruthlessly dismissed two seasons ago, Chris Hughton can expect a warm reception when he returns to the Sports Direct Arena for the first time, this time as manager of Norwich.
But with Norwich yet to manage a Premier League win under his stewardship, having notched only two goals and conceded seven, his pre-match applause form the appreciative home fans might be the best it gets for him on Sunday.
Newcastle (8/11 to win) may be somewhat battered and bruised following a tough but productive week with away draws at Everton and Maritimo, but unlike Norwich (4/1 to win) they have key attacking players in form in the shape of Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa, the pair who have between them notched all five of the Magpies’ goals this term.
Ba came off the bench last week – somewhat aggrieved at having started on it – to score both of his side’s goals in a respectable 2-2 draw at Goodison, all the more impressive a result given Everton’s dominance in the first half.
Ba was forced to spend much of the second half of last season as second fiddle to fellow Senegalese striker Papiss Cisse, but he’s started this campaign in better form, and is 9/2 to score the first goal on Sunday.
With his jinking runs and powerful left boot, Ben Arfa has become a firm favourite among the Geordies and he seems to keep his most effective performances for the 52,000 of them – his two home games already this season have seen two goals.
He’ll be involved in most of Newcastle’s play in the attacking third and is another tempting punt at 8/1 to notch first.
Following a shock opening day drubbing at the hands of Fulham, Norwich have recovered with three solid draws, most impressively frustrating Spurs at White Hart Lane earlier this month.
Hughton will hope they can repeat that performance on Sunday (a draw is 5/2), though their previous Premier League results in the north east do not bode well – their last four visits to Newcastle have yielded just a single point.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing