Michael Laudrup says Swansea City must battle on the Tyne
MICHAEL Laudrup has told Swansea City they must be ready to battle if they are to avoid a slog on the Tyne this weekend.
Laudrup reckons Newcastle United's home defeat by West Ham last Sunday is bad news for Swansea as they head north.
And he admits his players will have to fight for the right to play their football against an imposing Toon line-up.
Newcastle have been struggling for form, having chalked up only one win in their last six league games.
Curiously, there are some Geordies who are billing Saturday's meeting with Swansea as a must-win game as Alan Pardew's men look to climb out of mid-table.
For Laudrup, that rams home the point that Swansea will have to scrap for anything they get at St James' Park.
Newcastle, after all, will be desperate for success.
"Newcastle are a very strong team," says the Swansea manager.
"And while there were some good results for us last weekend, I think the bad one for us was Newcastle losing at home.
"The one thing you can say is that like Southampton last weekend, we know what we can expect after that.
"They have very strong, physical players like (Demba) Ba and (Papiss) Cisse, then there are others like (Hatem) Ben Arfa and Jonas (Gutierrez).
"I think it will be quite a physical game against them and we have to be prepared for that."
Swansea have not beaten the Magpies in their last seven meetings, and they have not triumphed in Newcastle since Alan Waddle got the decisive goal in 1980.
Brendan Rodgers's Swans did manage a draw at Newcastle last season — albeit in a game the home side controlled for long periods — and Laudrup would be well pleased with something similar this time.
"For me, every time we get a point away from home in the Premier League it's a point gained," he says.
"Of course there are different circumstances — you could be winning and the other team scores an equaliser in the last second — but overall I think that when a team like us get a point away from home, it's always a point gained."
Laudrup is offering a nod to Southampton last Saturday, when his team were short of their best but fought back from 1-0 down to claim a draw thanks to Nathan Dyer's goal.
Swansea have played better and got nothing from games already during his tenure, so a somewhat fortuitous point was most welcome.
"Maybe it was the first time this season that we got a little more than we deserved," Laudrup concedes.
"But saying that, I still think we played okay.
"After 45 minutes I was in the dressing room feeling we were dominating and that we just lacked that little bit in the last third of the pitch.
"I don't think we have to exaggerate and say it was a very poor game.
"I think that when we play away against a team who are so in need of a win, we can come under pressure. That can happen.
"In the second half they put some pressure on, but I have watched the game again and it's not as if they had five or six chances and we were very lucky. We didn't create many chances ourselves, but we got a 1-1 draw.
"There have been other games where we have played better but not got the result. That happens."
One example came at Manchester City at the end of last month, when Swansea performed admirably but could not take their chances.
They ended up with nothing thanks to a moment of magic from Carlos Tevez.
Perhaps if Southampton had a player of Tevez's quality in their ranks, Swansea may have been beaten once more last weekend.
But Laudrup argues that in a sense, the trip to St Mary's was just as taxing as the one to the Etihad — and he forecasts another stern examination at Newcastle.
"Every away game is difficult," the Dane says.
"Some are more difficult than others, but we have played the champions and we have played one of the bottom teams in the last few weeks.
"Of course the big teams have some extraordinary players, but the difficulties were the same in both those games. You are playing against different kinds of players, but it's always difficult to get a result."
Swansea's record on the road says as much, with three straight league defeats coming before the Southampton draw.
Their only away success in top flight so far this term came on the opening day at Loftus Road, and Laudrup accepts there is a need to add to that tally.
He believes around four away league victories would be a good return for Swansea this season.
But Laudrup is also aware of the importance of morale-boosting draws.
"Southampton kept the momentum going for us," he adds. "We had it with the late equaliser against Chelsea, and we got another draw last Saturday.
"If you play four games, you lose one of them and get three draws, you get three points.
"If you lose three of those games and win one, you also get three points.
"But for me there's a big difference. I know the points are the same, but the circumstances are different.
"It's different psychologically for the team if you lose one out of four or you lose three out of the four. "Of course we want to win games, but draws can be good."
Victory is far from out of the question against a Newcastle side who are struggling for consistency right now.
But Swansea will be happy enough if they return from another tricky road trip with a share of the spoils.