With Florian Lejeune injured, Ciaran Clark has slotted straight back into the Newcastle defense and showed the understanding that exists between him and captain Jamaal Lascelles.
It helps they had a season together down below, and they were two of Newcastle’s best players in our promotion back to the Premier League.
And they both had good games in the excellent 3-2 win at West Ham last time out.
Now there comes a much more significant challenge tonight when we welcome (if that’s the right word) a very powerful Manchester City side to Tyneside.
There will be 52,000 fans at St. James’ Park, and we are likely to see the crowd again pay homage to our manager Rafa Benitez.
Ciaran Clark – in action at the London Stadium on Saturday
The game plan he put together for the West Ham game was exceptional, and we will need the same again when we play Brighton and Stoke in the two games after tonight’s tough test against the league leaders.
It will be interesting to see what game plan Rafa has tonight, but we can look forward to some quick counter-attacks from the Newcastle team, and they may just catch the opposition off guard.
To get anything tonight from a team that has won their last 17 league games in a row, the lads will have to be close to their very best form.
It’s possible to get something out of this game even if it’s unlikely.
This is what Ciaran has said today about the game tonight as reported in the Chronicle:
“We’ll have to be at it right the way through,” “When you’re playing against a team like City, you know they’re going to create chances.”
“It’s going to be one of those games where we have to try to keep it tight, and maybe if we can do that, we can create a couple of chances and catch them by surprise.”
“For a start, it’s going to have to be hard work and concentration. They’ve obviously spent a lot of money on talent, and the squad they’ve got is unbelievable.”
“But we’ll go out there and give it our best shot. We’ll work as hard as we can.”
“And hopefully if we can take confidence from the game against West Ham and take it into the City game, who knows what can happen?”
“It’s game after game at this time of year, and we’ll take the win against West Ham into this run,”
“Hopefully, the confidence will be high now. In the dressing room at West Ham, everyone was buzzing after the game and we’ll be looking to take that into the next run of games and come out with some points.”
“It was a massive win at the weekend.” “We obviously haven’t been on the best of runs of late, and we wanted to get that win so desperately.”
“We know it’s going to be tough against City. They’re an unbelievable side, as they’ve shown all season, but we’ll go out there and give it our best shot.”
“And who knows what can happen? Hopefully, we can be the team that’s going to stop their run.”
Benitez will have Jonjo Shelvey, Isaac Hayden, and Mikel Merino available for tonight’s’ game although we would like to see Henri Saivet keep his place and be given additional opportunities in the Newcastle first team.
His attitude is just superb and he played really well on Saturday and scored a terrific goal direct from a free kick.
Mo Diame also played very well and admitted after the game that he had not been happy with his previous form this season.
Saivet and Diame dominated the central midfield on Saturday in London.
But that will be difficult tonight, whoever is selected to play in the middle of the park for the Magpies, against some world-class players in the City side.