Newcastle United Must Take Three Points From Fulham Without Barton

Paul ReeceContributor IINovember 12, 2010

Kevin Nolan wil be hoping to add to his 7 goals this season
Kevin Nolan wil be hoping to add to his 7 goals this seasonMike Hewitt/Getty Images

Newcastle United head into Saturday's crunch game with Fulham needing three points to continue their impressive season.

Wednesday night's disappointing defeat left the club in fifth place in the Premier League—far above expectations at the start of the season.

But it was three points dropped against another side United should be beating, a running theme so far this season.

Following magnificent wins and Aston Villa, Everton, Sunderland and Arsenal United have followed those unexpected wins with disappointing defeats.

Losing to Stoke City and Blackpool, drawing to Wigan Athletic and losing to Blackburn Rovers—worryingly all at home.

St. James was a fortress last season with the club going the full year undefeated—this year, with crowds dropping, the same dominance has disappeared.

And now United must look to get their form back on track against a Fulham side who have proved to be tough to beat this season.

The loss of Joey Barton could be crucial for United, Barton has supplied Andy Carroll with his goals in United last two games and has been a star player this season.

With Shola Ameobi also an injury doubt, it leaves selection headaches for Chris Hughton, who must also decide whether Steven Taylor or Sol Campbell are ready for first-team football.

Taylor has been out since May, whilst Campbell has been restricted to just one start this season in the Carling Cup.

Fulham will hopefully provide a different type of opponent to United then Blackburn Rovers—with one journalist accusing Rovers of playing 1-5-5 formation.

This could benefit the free flowing football we have seen from United against Aston Villa and Sunderland, as they have struggled against the sides who just sit back and defend for 90 minutes.

Heading into the week after three great wins, another seemed certain, but once again, United have stumbled, and to finish the week with zero points from six would be a huge blow.