'We just have to win' – Santon warns Newcastle team-mates ahead of Reading clash

Newcastle full-back Davide Santon has warned his team-mates that they “cannot lose” when the face Reading at St. James’ Park on Saturday.

After finishing fifth last season – and remaining in the chase for Champions League qualification until the last few weeks of the campaign – Alan Pardew’s side have suffered a dramatic downturn in form, as they sit just three points off the relegation zone with a return of 21 points from 22 Premier League games.

And the 22 year-old, who has featured in all of Newcastle’s league games this season, believes a morale-boosting win over fellow relegation strugglers Reading could kick-start his team’s season.

“[The game against Reading] is so important,” Santon told the club’s official website.

“Reading at home? We cannot lose, we cannot draw, we just have to win.

“After we hopefully win that game, that is where our season starts. We still have a lot of games left where we can pick up good results. Our minds have to be only on win, win, win, and nothing else.”

A loss for Newcastle could see them end the weekend inside the relegation zone, with games against Chelsea and Tottenham on the horizon.

Santon hopeful of Debuchy impact at Newcastle

Newcastle United defender Davide Santon says he expects new signing Mathieu Debuchy to be a hit at St James’ Park after the France international made his debut in the 0-0 draw against Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday.

Debuchy joined the Magpies from Lille for a reported €6.6 million having been linked with a move to Tyneside for several months.

Santon hopes that the experience of the 27-year-old, who has played 12 times for his country, can help arrest Newcastle’s slide towards the bottom three of the Premier League after they ended a run of four consecutive defeats in all competitions.

“It is always difficult in your first game but once he has trained more with us [more] and is speaking the language [better] it will be easier,” Santon told the club’s official website.

“But I think he is a very good player who can help us. He did well today, looked confident and experienced and I think he can be a great player for Newcastle.”
Santon praised Newcastle’s improved defensive display after Alan Pardew’s side kept out a team who have lost only three times all season at home.

The Magpies came into the game with seven defeats in their last 10 Premier League outings and Santon believes the stalemate is a step in the right direction despite their fall to 16th place in the table.

“It was a very good point, especially because today we were solid on the pitch,” he commented. “We had a great defence, right up until the final whistle.

“In training all week we have been working on defending, defending, defending, and today we looked much more solid because of it.

“Unfortunately we just couldn’t score and it was difficult with only one or two chances, but the clean sheet and a point away from home was very important for us.

“We knew before the game that it was not going to be easy to come to Norwich and get anything. Big teams have lost here, so we can be proud of our performance.”

Newcastle defender Santon dismisses AC Milan interest

Newcastle United defender Davide Santon has dismissed reports linking him with a return to Serie A with AC Milan, insisting he is happy where he is.

Milan president Silvio Berlusconi highlighted the former Inter man as one of several youngsters he was interested in potentially bringing to the club as the Italian giants continue to rebuild their squad.

Santon, 22, has other ideas, however, insisting that he is more than content seeing out his contract at Newcastle, explaining how he has enjoyed his 18 months at St James’ Park until now.

Speaking to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle, Santon said: “I have had a year and a half here. I really enjoy it. I am happy at the club.

“This is really important for a young player. We are a young team here and we are growing together. That will only make us stronger in the long-term.”

A couple of injury-hit years at Inter ushered in his move to Newcastle and after more fitness problems during his first season in the Premier League, the Italian has finally settled as the side’s first choice left-back, but he still expects more from himself.

“The team give me confidence to play my game,” he added. “If you play when you are stressed you can’t give 100 per cent. But when you are settled as a group you can do well.

“I know I can do better than now, though. And when we have all of our players fit, we know we can do better as a team.”

Worst Premier League Team of the Season so far

While pre-season expectations have been met thus far by many of the Premier League’s top stars, others have not fared as well. Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez & Co. continue to deliver at the highest level, but some players a little further down the league have failed to get to grips with the 2012-13 campaign. So, using our unique Ratings Index, which takes every Premier League performance into account, we take a look at the worst players in the top flight so far this season…

Having been linked with Arsenal and Liverpool after Wigan’s impressive start to the season, it has been quite a downfall for goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi. The Oman international earned rave reviews early on in the campaign but has been at fault for goals on a number of occasions since as Roberto Martinez’s men slipped from genuine top-10 contenders to relegation material.

Dubbed ‘the next Paolo Maldini’ when he broke through at Inter in 2008, Davide Santon has failed to live up to such hype in the Premier League this season. Like many of his Newcastle team-mates, the full-back is yet to find the kind of form that helped the club seal a shock fifth-placed finish last year and is a shadow of the player that was performing so well when he arrived in English football.

The summer signing of James Collins and impressive form of Winston Reid at West Ham has hampered the progress of James Tomkins. The 23-year-old was named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year as the Hammers won promotion via the play-offs last term but he has so far been unable to regain his preferred centre-back position and has struggled when called upon by Sam Allardyce in midfield.

You can forgive a player for trying too hard to make a good impression on their Premier League debut, but Ivan Ramis‘ rash first seven minutes in a Wigan shirt provides the perfect example of how not to make yourself known. The Spanish centre-back, a summer signing from Mallorca, was at fault for both Chelsea goals in a 2-0 defeat on the opening weekend of the season, and has been part of a Latics defence that has already conceded 32 goals in 17 matches.

A whirlwind 2012 has seen Ryan Bertrand win the FA Cup, Champions League, England caps and a regular place in the Chelsea first team, but his performances in the Premier League this season have been far from convincing. The 23-year-old is yet to impress when deputising for Ashley Cole at left-back and has been ineffective when deployed on the left of midfield.

QPR looked to have pulled off a coup with the signing of Shaun Wright-Phillips from Manchester City at the start of last season. Neither Neil Warnock or Mark Hughes, who the winger had recaptured his form under at City two years previously, were able to get the best out of him again, though, and his steady decline has continued at Loftus Road this campaign.

A serious ankle injury cut Gary O’Neil‘s Premier League return short after he joined West Ham from Middlesbrough in January 2011. Despite impressing in the Championship as he made his long-awaited comeback towards the end of last season, he has been outshone by fellow midfielders Mohamed Diame, Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan, and is yet to prove he still has what it takes at the top level.

A nailed-on starter for Manchester United in ‘big games’ in recent seasons, a lot was expected of Park Ji-Sung when he made the move to QPR in the summer. The South Korean was given an important role in the centre of midfield and named captain upon his arrival, but he has not bounced back from a dismal performance against Swansea on his debut and is now sidelined through injury.

It took until November 10 for a Sunderland player other than Steven Fletcher to find the target in the Premier League, with Stephane Sessegnon failing to ease the goal burden on the club’s £12 million summer signing. The Benin international’s form has picked up in recent weeks but his early-season showings summed up what has been a below-par campaign thus far for the Black Cats.

Brendan Rodgers said he would not have allowed Andy Carroll to leave Liverpool if he knew a replacement would not be brought in, but the striker has hardly shown his boss what he is missing out on with a slow start to his loan spell at West Ham. Injuries have restricted the £35m England international to just nine Premier League starts for the Hammers and a lack of form has seen him score just once this season.

Signed for £4.6m from Sochaux in the summer, Modibo Maiga had looked set to challenge Carlton Cole for the lone striker role at West Ham. However, the surprise arrival of Carroll late in the transfer window means the Malian’s chances have been limited, and even when he has been given an opportunity to prove his worth he has failed to take it. Marseille have been linked with a January move for the forward.

Backing Newcastle to bounce back

After a disappointing home defeat against West Ham last weekend, Newcastle will be desperate to get back to winning ways when they face Swansea on Saturday.

Fortunately for the Magpies, they have something of a hoodoo over the visitors in recent years, having won five and lost none of their last seven encounters with the Welsh side in all competitions. If you think we can win this match, then you can click here to bet on football.

Michael Laudrup’s men have failed to win away from home in the Premier League since their amazing 5-0 thrashing of QPR on opening day, and their goal in last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Southampton was the first on their travels since that game at Loftus Road.

Poor away form is nothing new for the Swans, who have lost 17 of their last 24 on the road in the Premier League, while Alan Pardew will be hoping to once again make St James’ Park the fortress where they lost just three league games last season.