Newcastle have a chance to reach the last 16 of the FA Cup tomorrow afternoon if we can beat Brighton & Hove Albion.
And then with our best team out and a home draw, we can beat any team in the competition, so we must fancy our chances in the FA Cup this season, if we can only get some luck along the way.
When Newcastle kick off at 5:15 pm tomorrow afternoon they will be coming off their worst performance over 45 minutes this season, when they managed to concede 5 goals at Fulham in that horrible collapse.
And we have to remember that in the first 11 games of the season we only conceded 8 goals, just to show how bad it was at Craven Cottage last Saturday.
So hopefully Newcastle can give a suitable response at Brighton, and if we can play somewhere near our best, we must have a decent chance to go through to round 5.
Coloccini, the Newcastle captain, is the only doubt for the game with a groin strain, and we expect he will not be risked tomorrow afternoon, because we have games at Blackburn on Wednesday night and a home game against Aston Villa on the Sunday afternoon after that.
We expect James Perch to come into the back four for the Argentine, but it’s a reminder to the club that we have to get a back-up center-half into the club before the transfer window closes on Tuesday, because our cover is very shallow.
The lads jetted out of Gatwick and into Tenerife immediately after the Fulham defeat, and only returned on Wednesday night, so we expect them to be refreshed and ready to go at kick off time tomorrow afternoon.
Alan Pardew has placed a high priority on the FA Cup this season, and he will field the strongest team he can muster.
This is what we think the team will be tomorrow afternoon:
Simpson Williamson Perch Santon
Ben Arfa Guthrie Cabaye (c) Gutierrez
Subs: Elliot Ferguson Abeid Gosling Taylor (R) Obertan Ameobi (Sh)
Peter Lovenkrands deserves a chance up front in place of the very ineffective Shola Ameobi at Fulham, but we think Davide Santon could keep his place at left back, even though he didn’t play well at all in the second half at Craven Cottage, and we expect Ryan Taylor to be on the bench.
Davide should have learned a lot from the Fulham game, in the way the Fulham forwards were able to get behind our defense in that second half, and of course he’s still on a learning curve at Newcastle.
The keys for the game are fairly simple – our defense needs to have a strong game, because since we played Manchester City – after conceding only 8 goals in our first 11 league appearances – the lads have conceded three or more goals in six of the eleven league games since then.
And that’s really not good enough.
Newcastle’s success in the first part of the season was built on our strong and unyielding defense, and we’ll have to get back to that if we are to do as well over the remainder of the season.
The other key to the game is whether our strikers can score goals, and it was left to Danny Guthrie and Ben Arfa last Saturday to get the goals, and both were very good individual goals from the midfielders.
It was excellent news that Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse will be back on Tyneside on Monday from the African Cup of Nations.
Newcastle last won the FA Cup back in 1955 when I was middle aged, so it’s about time we had a good run in the Cup and the last time we reached the finals was in both 1998 and 1999 under Kenny Dalglish and Ruud Gullit as the managers.
We lost to Arsenal in 1998 and Manchester United in 1999, and they were by the same scoreline of 2-0.
We’d like to see us reach the final this year under Alan Pardew, but we first have to beat a good Brighton & Hove Albion side at the Amex Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
It will not be easy.
What do you think about the game tomorrow, and let us know what your team is.