Newcastle’s two top Senegal strikers, Demba Ba and Papiss Cissee, will be representing their country tonight in their first game in the African Cup of Nations, when they take on Zambia.
Leon Best – after scoring against QPR last Sunday
We’ll be looking for that score-line and hope that Senegal can get off to a winning start.
And apparently the Senegal-Zambia game is on UK Eurosport at 8.55 pm tonight – thanks to reader Jared Simpson for that information.
But before that game even kicks off, Newcastle will be playing at Craven Cottage, and we have to hope that Newcastle can score some goals this afternoon without their two top strikers.
And last night Demba Ba put this out on his Twitter account:
“Hi guys,Tomorrow big day! 2 wins would be wicked! Come on Newcastle, come on Senegal!!!”
It’s nice he put Newcastle before Senegal in that tweet. 😀
We expect Shola Ameobi and Leon Best to be the two strikers up front today, but think that Frenchman Ben Arfa will also get a start out on the right wing.
Newcastle won at Fulham 1-0 back in 2007 with a last minute penalty by Joey Barton, but they have had little success at the Cottage since that time, and lost 1-0 last February.
The lads turned in a rather poor performance in that game, which was a couple of days after Andy Carroll had been sold to Liverpool, and some of the players were still in shock.
As it turned out, Shola Ameobi also broke his cheek bone in that game, which made the shortage of strikers even worse at Newcastle, and they had to bring in Shefki Kuqi on a short term contract.
Alan Pardew is looking for other players to step up to the plate today, and get the job done up front for Newcastle:
“We have other assets who need to do the business on Saturday,”
“We are in a position now where if we can keep ticking over until that period when Cisse and Ba return then we will see what we can do.”
“Leon Best scoring a goal against Fulham was massively important – as important as anything this season. Leon has done well this season but needed a goal.”
“And in Ben Arfa we have a player where the penny is dropping as to what he needs to do.” “He was brilliant when he came on against QPR.”
With Newcastle becoming a good side and getting some good results this season, some opposing teams may resort to parking two buses in their penalty area to try to stop the Magpies.
But that’s hardly going to happen at any of the away grounds like Craven Cottage this afternoon, and is more likely to happen when lower level teams visit Newcastle, like Wolves, Aston Villa and Bolton – who are still to visit St. James’ Park this season.
Alan admitted teams may play negative defensive football against Newcastle:
“We are going to find some negative agendas and we need to be on our guard. It is a compliment in a way but we have to be able to overcome it,”
“On Sunday versus QPR we struggled at times, we gave the ball up cheaply. That was because of the opposition. I don’t think we will get that at Fulham.”
“They don’t play that way. Later in the season hopefully, it is a good sign when teams do that, but we have to deal with it.”
Newcastle are trying to strengthen their squad, and the acquisition of Cisse will allow Pardew to change his attacking options a lot more during games.
That’s something we haven’t been able to do, and with Peter Lovenkrands close to being fit again, Pardew will have about five top strikers he can use through the end of the season, once Ba and Cisse return from the African Cup of Nations.
Other top sides already have several strikers up front their managers can use, and Alan talked about this:
“We know that. Look at the team below us,” “They have Kuyt and Carroll who could start. They can put Suarez on. Or change it and play Bellamy somewhere else.”
“That is what they have. They can play Gerrard and Bellamy behind. That is what top teams have.”
“We have players now where we can change it when you need someone different to find that goal.”
Newcastle do have a decent chance of winning the game this afternoon, if the lads can get a goal or two, and the defense can again be very solid at the back.
A win would take Newcastle up to 39 points from their 22 games played – just one point from safety and four points or less from a European Champions League position. 😀