Tonight’s game is very important to lift the gloom and doom that is currently on Tyneside, and another defeat is the very last thing Newcastle fans want to see tonight.
We have probably just got over our 3-0 second half hammering at Blackburn when the sky seemed to fall in on our defense, and one of the things we will be looking for tonight is a much stronger display from our defense, and we expect the back line to be fairly decent with Taylor, Coloccini, Bassong and Enrique starting.
If we are to get ourselves out of this mess it’s the defense that has to start getting some clean sheets again.
Nicky Butt will miss this game tonight, after again getting himself suspended for one game, but Newcastle will have Barton and Geremi back in central midfield, but of course the reliable and consistent Danny Guthrie will be missing tonight, and he will be a big miss.
We have to hope that Danny can recover quickly from his hamstring injury.
And we could well see Steve Harper starting in goal for the first time this season, with Shay Given being heavily linked with a move away from the St. James Park to Eastlands, and we are told that Dennis Wise will be negotiating a deal for Given tonight.
We say we are told, because the amazing news about Albin Ebondo probably not coming in January has left us a little numb with shock, after all we have been told about the deal being imminent this week.
The squad that Joe Kinnear will choose from tonight is:
Given, Harper, Forster, Krul, Enrique, Bassong, Coloccini, Taylor, Edgar, N’Zogbia, Duff, Gutierrez, Lovenkrands, Geremi, Donaldson, Doninger, Godsmark, Owen, Xisco, Carroll, LuaLua, Ranger.
But we wouldn’t be at all surprised if in fact Given starts in goal, as he’s still included in the squad, because we have a feeling that no deal will happen – but that’s just a gut feeling on our part.
We also fully expect Peter Lovenkrands to feature tonight, although probably not from the start, and we don’t expect Charles N’Zogbia, because of all his whining, to be included in the game tonight, although he could be a sub. We hope he isn’t used.
Obafemi Martins will also miss the game tonight, but we hope he will be fit and ready for the Sunderland game this coming Sunday. Habib Beye and Claudio Cacapa remain sidelined with injury, and Viduka has just returned to training.
This is the team we think Joe will start tonight:
Taylor Coloccini Bassong Enrique
Gutierrez Barton Geremi Duff
Subs: Harper/Given Edgar LuaLua N’Zogbia Lovenkrands Xisco Ranger
For Manchester City Robinho returns from his trip home in time to make the Newcastle game tonight, while Richard Dunne will miss the match as he begins his four-match suspension for kicking out at Amir Zaki last week.
Craig Bellamy and Nigel De Jong look set to make their debuts against the Magpies, and Wayne Bridge will again be at left back. Vincent Kompany or Nedum Onuoha could play at center-back for Dunne.
Squad: Hart, Schmeichel, Zabaleta, Onuoha, Richards, Bridge, Ball, Garrido, Ben Haim, Wright-Phillips, Kompany, Fernandes, De Jong, Elano, Ireland, Robinho, Sturridge, Bellamy, Jo, Vassell, Caicedo.
The keys to Newcastle doing well tonight are fairly obvious:
- The defense has to play well and solid at the back and we look fro strong games from both Coloccini and Bassong in central defense
- Joey Barton is back and he can make a big difference and having gained some match practice he can be a big plus for Newcastle with his attacking midfield play, against his former club
- Geremi must come in and give a professional performance tonight after looking terrible in his last game for Newcastle. He is a far better player than he’s been playing recently and he can set up some goals with his passing ans crossing.
Since he wants to stay on Tyneside, now if the time to come through for the team
- Michael Owen and Andy Carroll up front have to be sharp and Michael is due a goal or two
We’ll take anything out of this game tonight, and only hope the circus that has been surrounding City with some of their transfer dealings over the last couple of weeks will spill over onto the pitch and they continue to under-perform.