Newcastle United can basically ensure the safety of the club in the Premier League, with a win tomorrow afternoon in the local derbyat home against Sunderland.
Newcastle are currently 5 points above the drop zone and Wigan Athletic, who are 3rd bottom on just 31 points. and they are in their annual struggle to escape the drop.
And with Wigan beating Milwall 2-0 today at Wembley in the FA Cup semi-final, they could be in the Europa League next season, and surely I cannot be the only one that thinks that’s simply ridiculous.
The Europa League positions should probably be based completely on league placement, as it’s done in the majority of the European leagues, but that would be the end of the FA Cup and the League Cup – and it could well be England will have a second division side representing them in Europe, for the second time in three seasons.
Newcastle have a great chance to get our fifth successive Premier League win at home tomorrow, and it will put us on 39 points and 8 points above the relegation zone and 8 points above Sunderland – and in 11th place.
Newcastle should be better positioned for players than we were last week, when we had to play almost the same starting eleven against Fulham, after we were beaten 3-1 in Lisbon – but this week we have more players available, who will be fresh.
Mathieu Debuchy, Cheick Tiote, Yoan Gouffran, Steven Taylor and James Perch didn’t play on Thursday night, and they could all start tomorrow, and players like Sylvain Marveaux, Shola Ameobi, Ben Arfa and Massadio Haidara only played a part of the game on Thursday night.
So we should at least be better off with the squad than we were last week – and we managed to win that game with a strong second half performance.
It may be the most important game of the season for Newcastle, and manager Alan Pardew knows that – and he had this to say about the derby game:
“It’s a passionate game played by two teams who are 15 miles apart or whatever it is; passionate Mackems, passionate Geordies. We’ve got 50,000 and that gives us a slight advantage and I’m sure they’ll want to make themselves heard.”
“If you can’t get motivated for this game then you shouldn’t be at Newcastle and you shouldn’t be at Sunderland.” “Both teams are very highly motivated to win.” “I think we need the points just as much as them.”
“For me, this fixture is important because I think it’s great for the Premier League to have Newcastle and Sunderland in the division and I hope we both are for next year.” “We’re both fighting for that at the moment.”
“But it won’t make it any larger, the game. It’s a huge game here for us and the people of the city.” “We have to make sure that we give a performance like we did against Benfica: with everything.”
“If we lose to Sunderland we need to make sure we give at least that, because that’s what they expect, and the same for Sunderland fans.” “Someone will be disappointed, I’m sure.”
“Even if it’s a draw it might be a last minute draw or whatever, like that year when I thought they perhaps just edged it and we got a goal towards the end.” “It’s a tight game but we’re really looking forward to it. We’re in good shape and hopefully we can get three points.”
“We’re in good form, I think. We’ve got some players coming back that make us a little bit stronger and I think it’s a tough game for Sunderland.”
Alan Pardew has been cagey about who is fit in the Newcastle squad, and who isn’t, so we will assume Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote and Mathieu Debuchy are all fit, and they could all start – and this could be the side that Alan starts tomorrow afternoon against our local rivals:
Debuchy Taylor (S) Yanga-Mbiwa Haidara
Gouffran Cabaye (c) Tiote Gutierrez
Subs: Elliot Williamson Anita Perch Ben Arfa Marveaux Ameobi (Sh)
That’s a strong starting eleven and maybe the strongest bench we’ve had this season.
Sunderland have trouble scoring goals, especially with Steven Fletcher out for the season, and it will be important for our lads to keep a clean sheet – and then we’ll need one goal to get all 3 points – and we’d be happy enough with a 1-0 win.
And 92% of our readers think we’ll win this game, so anything else will be a huge disappointment – and the results today in the Premier League all went our way.
And all 3 points tomorrow and we’ll be flying and in 11th place, and only a couple of points behind 9th placed Swansea City.
A top 10 finish is something we have to fight for in these last six games of the season, and a win tomorrow would be a good start.
Howay The Lads!!
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org