On paper the game tomorrow against 2nd bottom Peterborough should be an easy game.
But football games are not played on paper, and we’ve already learned in the Championship that any side can raise their game on the day, especially when they play Newcastle.
And the opposing team’s play bears no resemblance to their league position – none at all.
That has happened many times this season for Newcastle, and against Plymouth and Doncaster at St. James’ Park.
We actually are expecting Peterborough to play very well tomorrow, rather than being surprised if they do, because The Posh were really up for the game last time we played, when they beat us 2-0.
There should be no over-confidence tomorrow, and the lads must start playing from the very first minute, and not let the opposition have all the play in the first half, it’s just too dangerous, as we found out almost to the cost of 3 points against Doncaster.
We don’t think it will be hard for Chris to get the lads motivated for tomorrow, but he has to remind them that the game actually starts in the first half, and they cannot sleep-walk their way through the first 45 minutes any more.
On the team front, we expect Steven Taylor to make his long awaited return to the side, and the defense will be a lot better for that.
We expect our first-choice defense to be fielded for the first time since we hammered Ipswich Town 4-0 in September.
With Coloccini looking quite sharp last Monday, in spite of it being his first game back, we should be hard to score against once again.
Zurab Khizanishvili will be serving the second game of his three match ban, after being red-carded against Doncaster Rovers just before the end, and before Newcastle got their winning goal through Nolan in injury time.
But the problem we have is scoring goals, and therefore we’d like to see Carroll and Ranger start up front – and the side play 4-4-2 – even if it means Butt is dropped.
We have to have more creativity in the middle of the park, and when we play Butt and Smith together, we don’t have much, and that’s perfectly plain for all to see.
So this is the team we hope Chris starts tomorrow:
Simspon Coloccini Taylor Enrique
Taylor Smith (c) Nolan Gutierrez
Subs: Krul Kadar Tozer Guthrie Geremi Butt Harewood
That’s a strong bench, and will give Chris plenty of options in the second half, depending on how the game goes.
We must win tomorrow, and have to also hope the lads will make it easy for the fans – the last few games were kind of tough on the old nerves.
Nolan scored the winner after 92 minutes against Doncaster, and Steve Harper had to make 2 great saves in injury time last Monday night against the Blades, to preserve the win.
But even so, in the last 2 games we’ve got the 6 points we needed, and now we need to make that 9 before the 2 week International break.
If we win we remain top of the league and by at least 2 points.
And maybe when we’re 4-0 up tomorrow afternoon, the crowd can start singing the Ashley songs – but not before. 😀
Howay The Lads!!