The game on Friday night against Cardiff City at St. James Park, is shaping to be a vital game in our season.
With only a single win in the last 5 league games, both WBA and Nottingham Forest have closed the gap at the top on Newcastle – as indeed have 4th placed Cardiff City, who will try to lessen the gap even further with a win against the Magpies tomorrow night.
On the injury front we are told that Simpson, Gutierrez and Ameobi are all fit for this game – with the only players out with injury being Barton (ready to play in 2 weeks), Steven Taylor and Jose Enrique.
So Chris Hughton has enough players to choose from to give him some selection headaches – and of course that is always a good thing.
We wouldn’t just like to see Newcastle win against Cardiff City – and yes, that’s by far the most important thing – but we’d also like to see a solid attacking performance, with some creativity shown by the side.
That creativity was all but absent in our last league game, against Leicester City last Saturday night, and the lads are due a good display.
The strength of our side is the defense, and the two new boys who came in on Saturday night – Patrick van Aanholt and Mike Williamson took top honors in our Man of the Match honors, with van Aanholt winning and Williamson a close second.
With another new boy Wayne Routledge in 3rd place, that’s testament to the fact we had a good transfer window in January – for a change.
We fully expect Chris to ring in the changes for Friday, and we expect this strong line-up to be given the opportunity to put Cardiff away.
Simpson Williamson Coloccini Aanholt
Routledge Smith Guthrie Gutierrez
Subs: Krul Hall Kadar Taylor (R) Ranger Nolan Ameobi
That’s also one of the strongest benches we’ve had this season – so that also shows our newly strengthened squad.
There is news about Fitz Hall being given his debut tomorrow night, but it would be difficult to break up the impressive partnership of Mike Williamson and Fabricio Coloccini, although it could be that Hall has been impressing in training.
If that’s the case, that would explain it, if he indeed is given a start.
If Fitz plays it could be that all 6 transfer window signings will start the game for Newcastle tomorrow night, and that shows they are good buys, when they immediately start in the first team.
Cardiff are an attacking side, and they have the second highest number of goals scored in the Championship – with 52, just 6 short of WBA, arguably the most attacking side in the Championship.
Away from home Cardiff have scored more goals than any other side in the Championship with 30, and they recently took Bristol City apart 6-0 on 26th January at Ashton Gate.
So it will not be an easy game, that’s for sure.
On the Cardiff City side, Gavin Rae will miss Cardiff’s trip to Newcastle (the first in in 26 years) and has been left out with a hamstring injury.
Manager Dave Jones has to decide who to play in midfield, with Joe Ledley already sidelined,after he had the first of two hip operations, that will probably see his season finished.
The keys to a win for Newcastle are another strong defensive display, some creativity up front to carve out the chances, and putting those good chances away when they come along, which we’ve failed to do recently.
A win against Cardiff will see us right back on track, and then we need to put together a good winning streak, that will take on towards promotion.
But first things first, and we hope we’ll get all 3 points tomorrow night.
Howay The Lads!!