This is yet another extremely vital game in Newcastle’s struggle for survival in the Premier league this season.
Newcastle will have returning players Danny Guthrie, Kevin Nolan and Habib Beye to choose from for their important home fixture against Arsenal tomnorrow afternoon. Danny and Habib return from injury, and Kevin has finally served his 3 match ban for his sending off against Everton.
Newcastle have 5 home games remaining, with Chelsea next to arrive in 2 weeks time, and if they can win 4 of these games they should be safe from relegation worries, with 41 points.
But to do that they will need to beat either Arsenal or Chelsea, in addition to Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Fulham, in the remaining home games.
Newcastle are still without the services of Joey Barton, Xisco, Mark Viduka (surprise, surprise), and on loan player Ignacio Gonzalez, although the Uruguayan is never mentioned by the Newcastle coaches these days – so he seems a phantom player at times.
With many players to choose form Chris Hughton will have some selection posers but here’s the side we would like to start the game tomorrow:
S.Taylor Coloccini Bassong Enrique
Lovenklrands Butt Nolan Gutierrz
Martins Owen (c)
Subs: Forster Beye Guthrie Geremi Smith Carroll R.Taylor
Chris may be tempted to put Beye straight back into the side, but we think Steven Taylor will keep his place, just for this game, based on his very good form last time out.
One worry we do have is that Hughton may try to keep Smith in the side somehow, either by playing Alan alongside Nicky Butt, or putting him on the wing, both of which we think would be mistakes. That’s what Sam Allardyce kept doing, and Smith hardly ever played well, in all the different positions he was used in.
On form he doesn’t get a place up front or in central midfield, and should therefore be a substitute for tomorrow’s game.
Alan is not a goal-scorer and he’s not a winger either. We have four good wingers to choose from in R. Taylor, Duff, Gutierrez and Lovenkrands, and if fact one problem Chris will have tomorrow, is that some good players will not even make the bench.
But if Smith starts, we think that will be a poor starting selection by Hughton, and it will be up to Smith to then have a great game, and prove us wrong. If he does that, we (this blog) will be happy enough.
We have Lovenkrands in there for tomorrow, because of his goal scoring prowess, and Jonas Gutierrez on the other wing. However, we cannot even find a place for Duff or Ameobi on the bench – unless one of them replaces Andy Carroll, which Chris may elect to do.
That’s both a strong starting eleven and a strong bench, and of course we expect Martins and Owen to start up front, and to be a lot sharper than they were last time out, at Hull City.
However, we are aware the Daily Mail is reporting on Saturday morning that Michael Owen will be dropped for tomorrow’s game, and that Martins will be the lone striker up front, and that Smith will indeed be played in midfield.
We have no idea if the story is true, or just more made-up nonsense from the gossip press, but it would fuel our doubts that Hughton will somehow try to start Smith tomorrow.
However, we’d be very surprised if the story is true – but the Mail will likely sell more papers in Newcastle tomorrow morning, which seems to be their main aim, at the expense of decent journalism.
To win this game we will need to have an outstanding display from our defense, and maybe even a clean sheet – for once. We also will need some luck to get all 3 points, but we expect the Newcastle crowd to again do their part, with another wonderful display of passionate support for the lads. If only our team was as good as the supporters. 🙁
Arsene Wenger is expected to make several changes to the Arsenal team that beat Hull City in midweek in the FA Cup, with Manuel Almunia almost certain to return in goal, and Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure, Denilson and Samir Nasri all likely to start.
Cesc Fabregas and Emmanuel Adebayor are almost fit, but are unlikely to be risked tomorrow afternoon.
And with things looking rather bleak for Newcastle right now, a win is what the club really needs, but we’ll also take the point, if that’s all we can get.
A defeat would be another disaster.