Saturday, March 25, 2006

Newcastle Preview

After all of the excitement regarding the FA Cup this week, the Newcastle match has snuck up on us almost unnoticed. Don't forget to put your clocks forward before you go to bed tonight, or else you could find yourself arriving at the ground rather early for the 2pm kick off.

Newcastle arrive at the Valley on the back of three straight defeats, but all 3 of those have come against the Premiership's current top three sides, so perhaps that isn't really the best indicator of their current form, and mood within the club.
There are no doubts that they are a more 'together' unit since Souness departed, and the results since then have seen them slowly climbing the table, and they now find themselves in an almost exact mirror image of our own position. Played 30, Won 11, Drawn 6, Lost 13, the only difference between the sides on paper this year is the fact that Newcastle have a +2 goal difference over us, and the winner of tomorrow's match will climb up to 11th, leapfrogging Manchester City.

Scott Parker is set to make his first proper return to The Valley, and I'm unsure what kind of reaction he will get from the home faithful. There have been a couple of occasions this season where he has appeared in past highlights on the big screen pre-match, and portions over the Covered End have even seen fit to boo his image on those occasions, so I assume that he will be in for at least a modicum of ill feeling tomorrow. From a personal point of view, I won't be booing. He was an absolute star for us and although we didn't part on the best of terms, we got a good price for him, and I believe he deserves a round of applause when he takes to the field. He was our player of the year on more than one occasion, and in truth, can you really blame him for wanting the chance to play for a bigger club? He gave his all while he was wearing red, and that is what I remember him for.

Worrying team news on the BBCSport website claims that Darren Bent is struggling with an injury ahead of this match, and may need a late test on his ankle problem. Everybody knows just how important he is to us, and if he doesn't make the starting XI I will be a whole lot less confident about us getting a result. Bartlett and Bothroyd up front just doesn't inspire confidence anymore purely because Bent has raised the bar for striking standards this season. His namesake Marcus is back in full training, again according to the BBC, but they claim that it is unlikely that he will be fit enough to start.
From the Toon's perspective, Elliot is suspended because of the red card he picked up against Chelsea in midweek, but Boumsong is available again after serving his one match ban. Alan Shearer will also be making his 400th appearance for Newcastle, and his final appearance at The Valley.

Much of my prediction this week rests on the broad shoulders of Darren Bent, and whether or not he manages to pass his fitness test. I'm betting that he will though, and that he will once again get onto the score sheet.

Cynic Athletic's Prediction - 1-1 Draw (Bent - Shearer)


Post a Comment

<< Home