The FA Cup 3rd round tie tonight between Newcastle and Tottenham brings together the bottom two sides in the League tonight at St. James’ Park.
Newcastle have lost their last 3 league games, and Tottenham haven’t won any, even though Spanish manager Juande Ramos has spent a lot of transfer money on new players during the summer. The situation is not unlike it was last year at this time when Martin Jol was manager, and Tottneham had started the season under-performing.
Of course Tottenham Hotspur are the current holders of the Carling Cup, and no doubt will be keen to remain in the competition, whereas Newcastle are looking for their first win since Kevin Keegan resigned on 5th September.
The Newcastle defense has been the weakness yet again for the side, and Newcastle have conceded 8 goals in their last 3 games, and our last success was the extra-time victory over Coventry in the previous round of the Carling Cup.
On the other hand Spurs’ have hardly been able to score any goals at all, and have scored just 6 goals in their 6 games this season.
Oba Martins is back in contention for the Magpies, but we expect Oba to start on the bench, and then be brought on early in the second half, depending how the game is going. Oba has been out with a groin problem, but is now anxious to get back in to help the team.
Midfielders Danny Guthrie and Joey Barton are both still suspended, and Mark Viduka and Habib Beye remain injured with Achilles problems. Jonas Gutierrez (shoulder) and Jose Enrique are also still out and will not play tonight.
Juande Ramos is expected to rest Russian striker Roman Pavlyuchenko (good) and it may be too early to include Luka Modric, who is still troubled with a knee injury.
We expect the Newcastle side to be at their strongest possible for tonight’s important game.
Habib Beye Fabricio Coloccini Steven Taylor Sebastien Bassong
Geremi Nicky Butt, Charles N’Zogbia Damien Duff
Michael Owen (c), Xisco
Subs: Steve Harper, Claudio Cacapa, Ben Tozer, Nacho Gonzalez, Oba Martins, Ryan Donaldson, SholaAmeobi
Surely Sebastien Bassong will be given a deserved start tonight, and we expect him to be at left back and continue his good looking partnership on the left wing with fellow French youngster Charles N’Zogbia.
We expect Owen and Xisco also to both start up front in a 4-4-2 formation, with Martins being used as a substitute, although interim coach Chris Hughton may decide to start Oba.
This is a game Newcastle can win, but the team will have to play substantially better than they’ve shown over the last 3 games, where their form has been relegation play, at best.
Newcastle need a win tonight if the gloom and doom currently on Tyneside is to be lifted anytime soon.