Newcastle play their last game of the season at Everton this afternoon, and will be hoping to win the game to finish the season on a high note.
This is the best season Newcastle have had in the Premier League since Bobby Robson ran the club back in 2004, and if Newcastle can somehow get into a top four position, that will be the first time that has happened since 2003, when Newcastle finished in 3rd position.
Most pundits don’t think that will happen, and they are backing the two London clubs, Arsenal and Tottenham to do well today at West Brom and at home to Fulham – so no surprises there.
And this is the best season Alan Pardew has ever had in football, and to think this is his first full season at Newcastle, and late last week he was awarded the Premier League Manager Of The Season Award, the first time any Newcastle manager has ever won the award.
Alan has talked today about his season in personal terms:
“When I finished seventh or eighth with West Ham and reached the FA Cup final it was pretty special,’ ‘But I have to say that all this tops all that.”
“If someone had told me before the season that we would finish above Chelsea and Liverpool and even Aston Villa in the Premier League, then I simply would not have believed them.”
“But what this group of Newcastle United players have achieved this season has been nothing short of fantastic. We have competed with the top teams all season and all credit for this goes to our players.”
Newcastle do not have an easy game this afternoon at Goodison Park, and for whatever reason Everton have again come into good form in the second half of the season, after struggling initially.
In their last eight league games they have won four and drawn four, including that amazing 4-4 draw at Old Trafford, after twice being two goals down, and that’s one game that cost Manchester United the Premier League this season.
In their last seven home league games they have won six, including games against Manchester City and Chelsea, and have lost one to Arsenal 1-0, and that’s the only goal they have conceded in those seven games.
So Everton area team in form, and it will hardly be easy this afternoon for the Magpies.
Newcastle are coming off a 2-0 defeat against City at home last Sunday, but the lads played very well and held out well for 70 minutes against an in-form City side, before leaking a couple of goals, and that initial defensive resilience will be sorely needed this afternoon.
We expect Alan Pardew to name an unchanged side again this afternoon, which has done so well against the league leaders and at Chelsea eleven days ago.
Here’s the side we expect Alan to start today:
Newcastle United (4-4-2):
Tim Krul; James Perch, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini (c), Davide Santon:
Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Jonas Gutierrez;
Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse
Substitutes: Rob Elliot, Shane Ferguson, Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling, Sylvain Marveaux; Gabriel Obertan, Shola Ameobi
Alan Pardew has started to play a 4-4-2 formation again, and that gives both Senegal strikers, Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse a chance in the middle up front.
Papiss has been in phenomenal goal-scoring form and is due a goal, simply because he didn’t score against Manchester City last time out, and he currently has 13 goals in his 13 appearances for Newcastle.
Demba Ba hasn’t scored since the 2-1 home win against Aston Villa in early February, and is stuck on 16 goals, but Demba could get a vital goal today, and we wouldn’t rule that out at all.
A win is all Newcastle can go for this afternoon, and hope that either Arsenal or Tottenham or both slip up in their games today.
And as is customary on the last day of the season, all Premier League games are kicking off at the same time – 3:00 pm.
And just in case you don’t fully appreciate or realize how far Newcastle have come in a short three years, the last game of 2009 had us at Aston Villa, and a draw would have saved us from relegation, but we lost 1-0 and were relegated.
That’s the bad news, and it was all doom and gloom at Newcastle that summer, and it was very difficult and tortuous to write about Newcastle in those days – but we did.
Newcastle have come roaring back in these three years, and a top four place tonight would be simply fantastic.
Let us know what you think the result will be today.
Howay The Lads!!