Newcastle need a win tonight against WBA at St. James’ Park.
That would give Newcastle 30 points from their first 17 league games, which is an excellent total for this time of the year.
Newcastle will be able to field almost their strongest team, but we do expect James Perch to start alongside Fab Coloccini in the middle of Newcastle’s defense, although if the game warrants it, we could even see Mike Williamson get a run-out in the last 15 minutes or so.
Yohan Cabaye is not available unfortunately, as he will be serving a one match ban for picking up his 5th yellow card in Saturday’s 0-0 draw against Swansea.
And young Haris Vuckic could get a start tonight, although Frenchman Mehdi Abeid is also available, and both 19 year-olds were substitutes last Saturday, which tells us they have been impressive in training.
Dan Gosling is also unavailable, and will serve the second match of his three game suspension for being sent off at Norwich.
This is the team we expect Alan Pardew to pick for the game:
Simpson Coloccini Perch Santon
Obertan Vuckic Tiote Gutierrez
Subs: Elliot Williamson Taylor (R) Abeid Ameobi (Sa) Ameobi (Sh) Ben Arfa
Ben Arfa could get a start either on the right wing, or in place of Leon Best up front, and the impressive young Sammy Ameobi could get a start in place of Obertan out on the right wing.
And we suppose we could even see Mike Williamson start tonight but he is still a bit short of match practice, and we’d be surprised is he does get a start.
Ryan Taylor is expected to be fit again, but we expect him to be on the bench, after 20 year-old Davide Santon has looked very good in the last couple of games, and now what Davide needs is a string of games in the first team.
The keys to the game seem fairly straight forward.
Newcastle need to be as strong at the back as they were on Saturday against Swansea, and hopefully can even get a second clean sheet in a row.
That feat has been achieved only once this season, and happened to be the in the first two games at home to Arsenal (0-0) and away at Sunderand (1-0 win).
Up front we have to hope that Demba Ba can get on the goals trail again, although he again looked sharp on Saturday and was very unlucky not to score.
Leon Best is also due a goal, and has been stuck on three goals for the season for a long time now.
It would also help to get an early goal, especially after toiling for 90 minutes on Saturday, without being able to score.
As expected former Middlesbrough James Morrison is definitely out of the game for WBA due to a hamstring problem, which forced him off late in the game at Blackburn.
Cameroon international Somen Tchoyi – who scored a hat-trick at Newcastle in the final game of last season – will miss his second successive game due to his wife recently delivering a baby.
So he’ll not score against Newcastle tonight – thank goodness for that.
We need a win tonight, it’s just as simple as that.
Howay The Lads!!