Newcastle have a chance to get their third win in a row, for only the second time this season in the league, and of course it’s against Liverpool at St. James’ Park tomorrow afternoon.
The first time was in October/ November when we beat Wigan 1-0 at home, Stoke 3-1 away and then Everton 2-1 at home.
With Chelsea deservedly beating Aston Villa 4-2 at Villa Park today, and former Liverpool striker Torres finally scoring his first league goal for a long long time, Chelsea are again 3 points ahead of Newcastle on 53 points, but Arsenal were surprisingly beaten 2-1 at QPR, and are still 8 points ahead of Newcastle.
Indeed Wigan, Bolton and QPR all won today, so Aston Villa are now just 5 points above the drop zone, and it looks like Wolves may a lost cause a full 6 points behind second bottom placed Wigan.
Alex McLeish couldn’t take a Birmingham-based side down for the second season running – could he?
A Newcastle win tomorrow can bring us level again with Chelsea, and just 5 points behind Arsenal, but the main thing with the win, is Newcastle will be a full 8 points ahead of Liverpool.
Liverpool are currently in 8th place in the league table, after Everton’s 2-0 win at home to West Brom today put them on 43 points, one point ahead of their Merseyside neighbors.
There is every reason for Liverpool to try to get the win tomorrow, not least because they have lost to two bottom three sides in their last two games, and no doubt will be going all out to win this game.
But Newcastle are in good form and have recovered well from their heart-breaking defeat at Arsenal almost three weeks ago.
The lads have come back to beat Norwich 1-0 and West Brom 3-1 on successive Sundays, when the game at The Hawthorns was virtually over at half time after Newcastle had ripped West Brom apart with Cisse getting two goals, and the great Ben Arfa getting a goal and two assist, all in the first 45 minutes.
If Newcastle can start off this game in the same way as last week, we should have a good chance of all 3 points, but Newcastle really secured the win with a solid second half defensive performance, apart from a misunderstanding between Krul and Williamson for West Brom’s only goal.
One negative out of the game last Sunday was that Newcastle have lost Coloccini for a couple of games, but we have every confidence in James Perch, who will play alongside Williamson in this important game tomorrow.
James had a very good game last Sunday, when he played at left back in the first half and center-back for Colo in the second half, and it’s players like James who are the unsung heroes at Newcastle this season.
This is another huge opportunity for James to prove he has a future on Tyneside, even if it is only as a good squad player.
Two players who are back for Newcastle tomorrow are Cheick Tiote and Ryan Taylor, who have both recovered from their injuries, which kept Cheick out for two games and Ryan out for three games.
Cheick will start tomorrow, and that’s directly from manager Alan Pardew in his press conference yesterday, and he also had this to say yesterday about Cheick, on his first day back in full training:
“He is the lion of our team and like any lion who has been down in the dumps he came back this morning and let everyone know he’s back, let out a few roars, had a couple of scuffles.”
“We are better for it. Not everyone was pleased to see him back but as the coaching staff, we smiled, and he managed not to kill anyone so we are ok.”
West Brom beat us at Newcastle last year at St. James’ Park in the game just before Christmas, and we got revenge for that one last weekend, and Liverpool beat Newcastle at Anfield on December 30th with a 3-1 victory, and we have a chance to avenge that defeat tomorrow.
But in the 11 league games since that game, Liverpool have only two wins and two draws, and one of the wins was a gift from Everton who fielded six reserves in their league game in mid-week.
That’s because they were holding players back for the game the following weekend, against Sunderland in the FA Cup, which they got through last week, and they will now play Liverpool in the semi-finals at Wembley.
Liverpool’s form has been horrendous this year, and we hope it doesn’t improve too much tomorrow.
Ryan Taylor is also back but now sure whether he will start, but he could come in at left-back where he played earlier in the year, and we half expect Liverpool to try to attack Newcastle down the wings tomorrow.
It could be that 21 year-old Italian International Davide Stanton comes in at left back, and maybe plays for one half, but we really expect Ryan to start.
So this is the side we would expect tomorrow:
Simpson Perch Williamson Taylor (R)
Ben Arfa Cabaye Tiote Gutierrez (C)
Subs: Elliot Santon Ferguson Vuckic Guthrie Gosling Ameobi (Sh)
We are assuming that Gabby Obertan is injured.
The keys to the game for Newcastle are as follows:
- Ben Arfa can show the same majestic form as last week, and he can interact with Demba Ba and Cisse up front with the slick passing we saw at West Brom
- Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse can take their chances – even half chances – as they usually do
- Mike Williamson and James Perch can form a solid partnership in the middle at the back, and the back five have a good game
Every one of our eight remaining games are important, and we need to get as many wins as possible, in an effort to qualify for the Europa League, and of course our home games become very important.
This is a game we can win, in front of a sold-out St. James’ Park, and that’s what we’ll be looking for tomorrow, but we expect Liverpool to be in much better form than in their last couple of league games.