This game will be very tough for a weakened Newcastle United side, and we don’t really expect to get anything out of the game.
Since our last game last Saturday, when the lads beat Birmingham 2-1 for an excellent and much needed win, the squad has lost captain Kevin Nolan for the season, and of course Steve Harper is also out of action too for the last two games.
Kevin had an operation on his ankle and we have to assume that was cautionary, and the right thing to do, because Kevin should now be ready for pre-season in about 7 weeks time.
The same seems to have been true with veteran goalkeeper Steve Harper, who had another minor knee operation last week, so for the last two games of the season 20 year-old Swede Ole Soderberg will be the back-up goalkeeper to Tim Krul.
Let’s hope Murphy’s law doesn’t click in and Tim gets injured tomorrow. 🙁
The players who are now out for the season at Newcastle are Ben Arfa, Stephen Ireland, Dan Gosling, Sol Campbell, Danny Guthrie, Steve Harper, Kevin Nolan, Mike Williamson and James Perch.
Add to that Ivory Coast International Cheick Tiote, who will not be risked again this season, because he’s on 14 yellow cards.
Although Alan Smith and Leon Best have both returned to training, it’s unlikely they will be risked in the last two games, and they are not in the provisional squad for tomorrow’s game.
So that’s an amazing 12 first team players unavailable for the last two games of the season – simply astonishing.
So the big question for tomorrow is what will the Newcastle team be?
We have to think captain for the day Joey Barton will take a more central role, and no other senior central midfielder is available – and th situation reminds us of the catastrophic injury situation that existed under Graeme Souness and Glenn Roeder when they were managing the club.
Alan Pardew has talked up Haris Vuckic this week and we think he will be given a chance alongside Joey Barton, and of course he played very well at Stamford Bridge in September, and after being out so long with injuries this season, it’s a great chance for the Slovenian U21 International to show what he can do.
So this is the side we think Pardew will select for tomorrow afternoon:
Simpson Taylor(S) Coloccini Enrique
Taylor( R) Vuckic Barton (c) Gutierrez
Subs: Soderberg Ferguson Tavernier Richardson Ranger Kuqi LuaLua
We expect Ryan Taylor to get a start on the right wing, and we’re surprised he has not featured since he put in an excellent show against Bolton Wanderers, before being sent off.
Again it’s a great opportunity for him to show just what he can do for Newcastle, and we’re hoping for another good performance from Ryan.
It could be that Kazenga LuaLua, fit again following injury, will feature tomorrow on the right wing, but we have the 20 year-old on the bench, and he may even see some playing time tomorrow.
Joey Barton will be huge player for the Newcastle side tomorrow, because not only is he the captain, but he’ll be the leader of the side tomorrow on the pitch with Kevin missing, but it’s something that we think Joey will thrive on. We expect Joey to have another committed game for Newcastle tomorrow afternoon.
The subs bench is full of youngsters, which just about illustrates the catastrophic injury situation at the Newcastle club at the moment. Newcatsle must add numbers to their squad for next season so this doesn’t happen again.
Even though Chelsea have now lost their Premier League title to Manchester United, they will want to press on in these last two games.
And certainly before their loss to Manchester United last weekend, they had won 8 and drawn one of their previous 9 league games, and almost caught the Red Devils with that terrific run of good form.
We’d love to see Newcastle get something out of this game tomorrow, but we just cannot see it happening.
If the lads do get something out of the game, it will be a terrific achievement for the side, and my hat will be off to them – where’s that wine?
What do you think the side will be for tomorrow?