It seems like the game at Birmingham tonight could be very similar to the game at Blackburn last Saturday.
Nile Ranger– can he come through for Newcastle tonight?
Birmingham are well organized and Scottish manager Alex McLeish gets the very best out of his players, but if Newcastle defend well, they could restrict Birmingham from scoring for another clean sheet, and that would be great.
Then the question will be whether Peter Lovenkrands and Leon Best up front, can get some chances and convert them into goals.
But we also have a sneaking suspicion that the two of them will have seen the criticism leveled at them after Saturday and will go all out out to get some goals tonight.
We hope so in any case, because you can talk all you want to about scoring goals and being able to do the job and all that good stuff, but the proof of the pudding is always in the eating – and strikers need to score goals.
And we don’t think that Alan Pardew will wait until the 75th minute tonight, if the two starters, we expect Alan to start an unchanged side, haven’t scored, and will likely give 19 year-old Nile Ranger and 34 year-old new signing Shefki Kuqi a good run-out in the second half.
It would be tremendous if Shefki could score, and maybe even get the winner, and of course if he can do that he’ll be the Toast of the Toon. He will already know that – so we have no doubt the Finn will be very willing to do well for the Newcastle club.
It will be quite a partnership between the two 6’2″ strikers, and at the very opposite ends of their careers, and it will be interesting to see if the two big men can play well together.
And Alan Pardew is all too aware that tonight’s game will be very tough, as he said today:
“I just think Birmingham are a side that restrict you in terms of attacking them,” “They’re very solid, they don’t allow you to have a lot of room between the lines so it’s difficult to score in open play.”
“You can boss the game, like we did at Blackburn, and hopefully create chances through set plays and the odd time when you manage to pull them around.” “But they’re a disciplined side, a hard- working side and they have some very, very good players.”
“It’s a very important game I feel, and we’d like to get three points on the board. It’s not an easy thing to do there – I think they’ve only lost two at home all year, so they’ve got a very, very good record.”
Birmingham have certainly improved this year, there’s no doubt about that, and at the beginning of the season they looked a rather poor side, having done so well last season, but it seems they are now picking up nicely.
But that’s not particularly good news for Newcastle, and it could be that their success in the Carling Cup is responsible for that.
And just a thought here – we have to play our first team next season in the Carling Cup, and we could do well, and may even win something – whoops getting carried away again.
But it’s been an eye-opener to see two of the poorer sides in the division in Birmingham and West Ham, make the semi-final this year, and even Ipswich, struggling in the Championship, made the other semi-final against Arsenal, so let’s at least go all out to try to get as far as we can in both cups next season.
One player who Newcastle will need to watch out for tonight is 6’8″ (or is that only 6′ 7.5″?), lanky striker Zigic, although the Serbian has only recently shown any form this season, and started to score some goals.
If the lads can stay very strong at the back, and we can play much the same game we played on Saturday, when our excellent midfield dominated the game for long stretches of the game, we have to think we could come away with sxay a 1-0 win – with just a little bit of good fortune on our side.
What do you think?
Howay The Lads!!