The game at Bolton on Boxing Day is turning out to be an important game for Newcastle.
As we all know only too well, after having such a great start in our first 11 games of the season and getting 25 points on the board, we’ve only managed two points in our last six games.
But that’s not as bad as it looks, because Newcastle played the two Manchester clubs away and Chelsea at home in the first three of those games.
So it’s the last three games at Norwich and against Swansea and West Brom at home, where things have gone wrong.
They went badly wrong at Norwich simply because we didn’t have any center-backs available, and while Simpson and Perch did their very best playing out of position in central defense, we didn’t have any player who could head the ball away.
Picky picky, but that cost us all four goals and the three points as went down 4-2.
The lads did very well at home to Swansea, but just couldn’t score and it ended up 0-0, but at least we kept a clean sheet and the performance was solid.
And now, since we haven’t won since we beat Everton 2-1 at home, the lads seemed to be a little bit anxious on Wednesday night against WBA, and lost that game surprisingly 3-2, and another 3 goals conceded.
In the last 6 games we’ve conceded 14 goals after conceding only 8 in the first 11 games of the season, so the stats tell where Newcastle’s problems lie.
If we had won against WBA last Wednesday, things wouldn’t look half as bad as they appear right now, and indeed if Newcastle win at Bolton, things could quickly start to look up.
Since Steven Taylor was injured at the end of the Chelsea game, and is now out for the season, we are in need of a tall player at the back who is a decent header of the ball.
Enter Mike Williamson, who is now fit again after his ankle injury has finally cleared up, but it took a long four months in recovery.
While Mike is not fully match fit, he will in all likelihood play against second bottom of the table Bolton tomorrow.
On paper this looks like an easy game for Newcastle but it will not be. The WBA game looked almost a certainty, and we could not get a win at home in front of 51,000 fans.
Bolton have won only one of their 8 home league games of the season, and in short, their home form is hopeless.
They are better away form home and have won three and lost six of their games on the road this season, so playing Bolton at home is the best place to play them at the moment.
Yohan Cabaye will be back from his one match ban for picking up 5 yellow cards, and his vast experience will help a lot tomorrow afternoon.
Haris Vuckic showed he is a star of the future against West Brom, but he will in all likelihood drop down to the bench, unless Alan Pardew gives him a chance as a withdrawn striker in place of the currently ineffective Leon Best.
And Davide Santon went off with a swollen knee at home time against West Brom, and will miss the game tomorrow, but the 20 year-old will probably be back for the game at Liverpool on Friday.
Davide will have his knee drained, and if his knee is going to keep swelling up, he should really have it looked at by somebody good to see if anything can be done to fix it.
Dr. Steadman over here in Vail, Colorado is one of the world’s authorities on knees, and he should probably take a visit there soon or in early summer.
Dr. Steadman operated on Alan Shearer and Michael Owen in the past.
Danny Guthrie – a Blackburn target in January if you believe the papers – is still out with his groin strain, and Dan Gosling will serve the last game of his three match ban after being sent off at Norwich.
We are hoping Mike Williamson comes into defense, and think this is a likely team that Alan Pardew will field at the Reebok Stadium:
Simpson Coloccini Williamson Taylor (R)
Obertan Cabaye Tiote Gutierrez
Subs: Harper Perch Vuckic Ameobi (Sa) Vuckic Ameobi (Sh) Ben Arfa
The keys to the game for Newcastle are for the defense to be solid, especially on set plays, since five of the last six goals conceded have been from set plays against West Brom and Norwich.
We have to hope that Mike Williamson comes in and has an immediate impact in the side, and his heading ability should see the defense a lot more solid.
Demba Ba is in great form at the moment with 13 goals from his 18 appearances this season, and we hope that Best and other strikers who get playing time tomorrow, can start scoring goals too.
And Newcastle need to be more disciplined both in attack and in defense, and if we can keep a clean sheet tomorrow there must be every chance the lads can get a win.
And a win will be a late Christmas present for Newcastle fans, but we’ll take it. 😀
Howay The Lads!!