We’ve said many times this season that a game in the Premier League is crucial – but the one at Stoke City tomorrow could be a water-shed game this season for Newcastle United.
A win and we’ll all believe that Alan Shearer’s reign has started and we can lo0ok forward to better things in the final 6 games of the season, but a defeat, and bringing in Alan Shearer to save the club could even prove to be too late. Then the mother of all disasters – relegation – could be in store for our famous club.
That’s just about how things stand for tomorrow, and we don’t want to get too over-dramatic but when the lads have just 7 points form the last 13 league games, things have got to be pretty serious, as this is the worst run ever for the Tyneside club in the Premier League.
And it just so happens that Stoke City’s home record is more than good, and in 15 home games they have 8 wins and just 4 defeats and a goals for and against of 18 and 13 – an excellent record to get 28 points from their 15 home games.
On the other hand, away from home Newcastle in their 15 games, have just 2 wins at Portsmouth and WBA, and 5 draws for a points total just 11 points, and have 15 goals for and 24 against on their travels. Not too good a record, to say the least.
So just looking at the stats it would appear to be an easy home win for Stoke, but then there’s Alan Shearer.
If Alan is going to become the excellent manager that a lot of Newcastle fans think he is cut out to be, then his influence must be manifestred in results on the field and quickly.
And since we are really 4 points adrift of safety, and just 21 points to play for – that’s what this game is maybe the most important of our season so far.
Keys to a newcastle win are a good defensive performance and no conceding of silly goals like the two we gave way to Chelsea last Saturday. With Bassong and Beye likely to be in central defense that may even be possible.
But we have Steven Taylor, Lovenkrands and Jose Enrique all out tomorrow in addition to Viduka and Barton, so we think Shearer may select the following side to face Stoke:
R.Taylor Beye Bassong Duff
Geremi Butt Nolan Gutierrez
Martins Owen (c)
Subs: Krul Edgar Cacapa Coloccini Smith Guthrie Carroll
We have Coloccini being droppped and missing his very first minutes of the season at Newcastle, since he was signed from Deportivo in the summer for £10M.
But after his disastrous mistake against Chelsea, when he gifted Lampard their first goal, he needs to be dropped, although Alan may still elect to play the Argentine International at right back, for his experience.
There may even be some surprises for tomorrow, and it may well be that 20 year-old England Under-20 International Andy Carroll, following his two goals and excellent overall display for the Reserves last Monday night, could be drafted into the side. And Alan may elect to play a 4-3-3 formation, which he may want to do very soon, to add some striking power to the side.
But we suspect he would like to wait until Viduka is fit again, but when that will be – we have absolutely no idea, although next weekend is being talked about.
We do need to score some goals tomorrow, and hopefully Owen and Martins will have a better supply line than last Saturday, when the lads were solid for 55 minutes before the first goal, but created few chances to really worry the strong Chelsea side.
And of course Stoke are one of those teams, that may not have any real stars, but Tony Pulis has got them playing as though their lives depended on it, and while that’s good to see for any team, it’s a little of a worry they could out-fight our overpaid stars.
But we hope that’s something that will never happen with Alan in charge of Newcastle United.
And Stoke’s boss Pulis believes Alan Shearer’s arrival will have a positive impact on Newcastle in their fight against relegation as he talked about Alan today:
“I find it bizarre that a team like Newcastle are fighting a relegation battle at this stage of the season.
“But Alan’s arrival will have galvanized everyone up there and I’m sure they will be absolutely desperate to beat us on Saturday.”
Most Newcastle don’t find the relegation situation bizarre, but very frightening and far too real, as normally we would be starting to pull away from the relegation zone, but no signs of that yet.
As we said earlier, we hope we can get a win out of this game, because quite honestly a draw just will not be good enough, given our precarious position in the league table.
Yes, we’ll take the point of course, but we really need all 3 points to start an escape route, from being sucked down into the Championship next season.
Here’s wishing and hoping, as usual.
Howay The Lads!!