Where has it all gone wrong for Newcastle this season? They were the Premier League's surprise package last season, although I was amazed that Alan Pardew was offered and agreed an eight year contract, and played some of the best football in the division.
This term, after a decent enough start, they are languishing in 14th place, level on points with opponents Wigan, and one alarming Opta stat stands out from all others: The Magpies have the same number of points after 14 games as they did in 2008-09 when they ended the season being relegated.
That's frightening for fans. Too good to go down? With such a talented squad, Newcastle should be looking up the table, not down, but that's what we thought four years ago. St James' Park was an intimidating place to go as a player, because the players always rose to the passion of the fans. Some of that aura was returning last season but I'm not sure Wigan will feel too much trepidation on Monday night.
Newcastle have struggled with goals all season, averaging one a game, and when you aren't finding the net teams don't fear you. Inconsistency has been Newcastle's problem but in the last few games they've found some consistency, but it's the wrong kind: they've lost four in a row in the league, including their last two at home. They're only two points off third bottom so they need to dispatch Wigan.
And here's the good news for the Toon: I think Newcastle will win. After losing a lead at Stoke in midweek there were probably a few strong words from Pardew. The Geordie faithful will be needed but they're a loyal lot, Wigan offer scant threat up front and I expect this to be the night the Geordies get their groove back.
Papiss Cisse got Newcastle's goal against Stoke. He looked a revelation when he arrived but this term he's only scored four goals. Still, if I was the manager I would persevere with him and Demba Ba, who has notched eight, as both are quality performers. With neither side showing much cop up front, you'd think unders was the way to go but sometimes the dam bursts at once. I think Newcastle will win and I've got a feeling that they're going to score two or more.
Back Newcastle @ 2.01
Back over 2.5 goals @ 1.981/1