Newcastle United return to Premier League action tomorrow night, as Wigan make the trip to the North East to try and inflict the Geordies’ 5th successive league defeat. The Latics have never won at St James’ Park in Premier League history, although tomorrow could be their best chance to overturn that statistic.

The Magpies are on a wretched run which leaves them just two points above the drop zone and are without a host of first team players who have succumbed to the treatment table.

Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor, Haris Vuckic, Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling and Shola Ameobi are all missing tomorrow night, meaning Alan Pardew is down to the bare bones of his squad once more. James Perch is also banned after picking up his fifth booking of the season last week against Stoke and Jonas Gutierrez will do the same if he sees yellow against Roberto Martinez’s troops.
Once again the key to whether Newcastle play well or not will be their creativity. With the absence of French pair Ben Arfa and Cabaye, the tactics employed in recent weeks by the Toon Army have been uninspiring and lackluster. Mike Williamson has come in for some stick in the time the creative players have been injured, after he constantly goes route one in search of Demba Ba or Shola Ameobi, in the hope they can create something single-handedly.

The style does not suit Newcastle and fans will be hoping that they can return to their slick passing style on home turf, as they can be sure the Toon Army will be keen to voice their concerns should they see too many hoofs from the defenders.

I can imagine they will be equally cheesed off if they hear more excuses from their boss should the side not pick up any points. Pardew has been keen to point to his injury table and keeps coming out with the “they worked hard and I’m proud of them” line, but at the end of the day the team need results or they will face a long, tiring season.

As for Wigan, they excel in the creative department, as their smooth passing rhythm has been getting them some results in the last month. Jordi Gomez’s hat-trick against Reading recently capped Wigan’s most eye-catching performance of the season, as Martinez tries to lead them to a top half finish.

They have injury problems tomorrow though, with Ivan Ramis – scorer of a stunning volley earlier in the season – out, joined by Shaun Maloney, Ryo Miyaichi, Albert Crusat, Ben Watson and Antolin Alcaraz. Former Newcastle defender Gary Caldwell is doubtful, as is midfielder David Jones.