The game tomorrow, at Stamford Bridge, is one of the most difficult we have had since Joe Kinnear took over as interim manager in late September.
And unfortunately we are coming off a couple of rather poor displays and results against Fulham and Wigan, when we had hoped to pick up two wins, but came away with a single point from those games, and are rooted at 4th bottom of the league, although just 2 points out of 11th place.
Newcastle are still without Viduka, Smith, Gonzalez, Taylor and Barton, but we expect captain Michael Owen to start the game. If we are to do anything at all tomorrow in London, we will need to take any half chances we get, and Michael is our best player at that.
We expect Oba Martins to also start up front with Michael with Shola Ameobi dropping down to the bench.
Joe Kinnear still is mulling over his options in defense, but we think we’ll line up with the following team:
Edgar Beye Coloccini Bassong
Guttierrez Butt Guthrie N’Zogbia
Subs: Harper Enrique Cacapa Ameobi Carroll Geremi Duff
We’d like to see Beye at the center of our defense, with David Edgar coming in at right-back and Bassong reverting to left-back. Not sure if Joe will risk playing David Edgar, whom he’s never used since he’s been at the club, but David can be a solid player at full back.
One difficulty with the back four is that it shows 3 changes from last week, but we need the strongest back four we can muster tomorrow, and we think Beye and Coloccini in central defense would be a good move, because it puts the experience where we need it.
We’d also like to see Charles N’Zogbia given a run out on the left wing, in place of Duff, after the Frenchman’s sparkling form, when he was brought on last week against Wigan Athletic. With Duff having played for Ireland in mid-week he can start on the bench.
Danny Guthrie and Nicky Butt will need to be at their very best tomorrow, if we are to have any chance of winning the midfield battle, against Chelsea’s world class midfielders.
Felipe Scolari has announced that goalkeeper Petr Cech and Joe Cole are back in the Chelsea squad, with Cech having recovered from a calf strain and Cole from a hamstring problem.
Ashley Cole, who was on the bench at WBA but not fully fit, will also be available, although Scolari thinks that both Ashley Cole and Joe Cole are still not yet fully fit.
Frank Lampard returned to training yesterday, and should be okay to play, following a rib injury. Alex, who suffered a groin strain against Burnley, is rated possible but Juliano Belletti is definitely out.
If Newcastle are to get anything out of the game tomorrow, we will need some luck, and our defense will need to play at their very best. Our game plan should and will be to attack the opposition, to keep Chelsea honest. N’Zogbia and Gutierrez on the wings will ensure quick breaks for Newcastle.
If we can get something out of this game, it will be an excellent result for the lads, and we desperately need some good news – from anywhere – right now.
Fortune always favors the brave, and we’ll need plenty of that tomorrow if we are to a get a result.
Howay The Lads!