Newcastle play Norwich City this afternoon, and if we can win this game against Chris Hughton’s side, it will be the third league win in a row, and that’s something we didn’t achieve all of last season, and things will could be looking up on Tyneside, and last season’s nightmare will hopefully start to become a distant memory – when we entered European competition again but were completely ill-equipped to deal with two games a week.
But Newcastle seem to be a lot stronger this season, thank goodness, and fewer games and far fewer injuries means there is always competition for places, and today is no exception.
In fact it appears that Alan Pardew has a fully fit squad to choose from, and Jonas Gutierrez is now back from his compassionate leave in Argentina, and presumably now available for selection.
Mathieu Debuchy has five yellow cards and will miss this game through suspension today, so the real question is what the back four will be.
It seems the manager will continue to play a 4-4-2 formation, with big Shola Ameobi and Loic Remy up front, and the rest of the side basically picks itself, since the manager will not want to make many changes form two excellent performance in the last two games when we beat Chelsea at home and Tottenham away.
The two most probable back fours today are – Santon Williamson Yanga-Mbiwa and Dummett – or Yanga-Mbiwa Williamson Coloccini and Santon.
There are other possible formulations, but those seem to be the most probable, and in our poll most readers favored the one that brings the captain Coloccini back into central defense.
We thought that would be what Alan Pardew would do today – but some of his comments this week – about not wanting to change a winning team – may suggest he will stick with Williamson and Yanga-Mbiwa in central defense, who have played tremendously well over the last three games.
We’ll assume Colo stays on the bench today, so this is a team Alan Pardew could field this afternoon:
Santon Williamson Yanga-Mbiwa Dummett
Sissoko Cabaye Tiote (c) Gouffran
Ameobi (Sh) Remy
Subs: Elliot Taylor (S) Coloccini Anita Ben Arfa Gutierrez Cisse
Steven Taylor is fit again from his hamstring injury, and we are assuming he will be in the bench this afternoon.
That’s a strong side and a strong bench for today’s game.
And Alan Pardew knows that Newcastle fans will expect all 3 points this afternoon:
“Our fans do expect a win, but that’s any crowd and I think ours is one of the more supportive at a big club towards the players.”
“Of course they will expect us to win against Norwich, but trust me, if we build up a head of steam at any time they play a massive part.”
“There might only be a ten minute period in the game where we can win it, that could come between 40 and 60 or 80 and 94 but it will be significant and that’s why we are so strong at home.”
In fact 74% of readers expect Newcastle to win the game this afternoon.
The keys to the game are that our defense can against play very solidly, as they’ve done over the last three games since that terrible Sunderland loss.
And we assume with the creativity in the side, some chances will be created and maybe Loic Remy can add to the 7 goals he has already scored in the Premier League this season.
But we also know this game could be another banana skin for Newcastle, and a loss would be really hard to take.
So that’s the challenge for this in-form Newcastle side – to go out against a weaker side at home – and get the business done – and that means get all 3 points.
It’s really as simple as that.
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