After tomorrow the speculation will no doubt crank up a few notches as we collectively prepare for a long few weeks without any club football at all to focus upon. I hate close season! Mind you, there is a game to play before all that, and there is a space in the top ten to play for still so I’ll not get too far ahead of myself.
Both teams have entertained throughout the season, both teams have caused alarm to their fans throughout the season, both teams dispensed of their managers midway through the campaign and now both teams are mathematically safe and can enjoy the final day of the season without having to look over their shoulders. It’s fair to say that both sides have had a similar season and have achieved their respective goals.
However, the lure of a top-ten finish will hopefully be enough to inspire the home side to get a result. If that isn’t enough they can always use the memory of former boss Chris Hughton to inspire them after he was rather harshly sacked after the 3-1 defeat at The Hawthorns earlier on in the season. Go on lads, do it for Chrissy
If they are to win they’ll have to do it whilst contending with that ever so familiar injury list. Hatem Ben Arfa, Dan Gosling, Kevin Nolan, Steve Harper, James Perch, Danny Guthrie, Mike Williamson and Jonas Gutierrez are all out of the match while Cheik Tiote will also sit out to prevent him from picking up a yellow card and a three match ban for the start of next season. Shane Ferguson has recovered from a knock and Leon Best and Alan Smith are fit to feature although Bestie is unlikely to start.
I reckon we’ll see a team similar to the one that gained the impressive 2-2 draw with Chelsea last weekend, except for Jonas of course. That should leave us lining up a little like this:
Newcastle: Tim Krul, Jose Enrique, Fabricio Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Danny Simpson, Ryan Taylor, Joey Barton, Alan Smith, Shane Ferguson, Peter Lovenkrands, Shola Ameobi.
In fairness West Brom are also without a few key players. Peter Odemwingie and Gabriel Tamas are not included in Roy Hodgson’s squad for tomorrow. Both have been allowed to jet off on their summer holidays early as both are carrying slight knocks. Pablo Ibanez and Graham Dorrans are also ruled out through hamstring and ankle injuries respectively. Hodgson is also expected to call on the services of some of his youth players for the game tomorrow.
In their last match they beat Everton 1-0 in which they lined up with a team of:
West Brom: Scott Carson, Stephen Reid, Jonas Olsson, Gabriel Tamas, Nicky Shorey, Chris Brunt, Yousouff Mulumbu, Paul Scharner, Jerome Thomas, Simon Cox, Peter Odemwingie.
West Brom have not won at St James’ Park since September 1977 and that 3-1 victory over us back in December was their first league victory in 18 attempts.
The contrast in final day results is rather interesting. West Brom have never lost a game on the final day of a Premier League season (won 1, drawn 3) whilst Newcastle have won only one of the last eight games on the final day of a top-flight season.
West Brom’s 1-0 victory last weekend gave them their first clean sheet in 34 games, although going behind doesn’t faze them as they have claimed more points from losing positions than any other team this season.
I’m obviously hoping for a win, as we all are I presume. There is an awful lot of potential pride resting on tomorrow so I don’t want our boys to take the game lightly. A win will see us finish above Sunderland, will more than likely give us a top ten finish and will give everyone a good send off for the season finale. A lap of honour just doesn’t feel the same after a defeat.
I’m feeling optimistic about the match, which is dangerous. I think we have enough about us to win the game and should (hopefully) get the three points on offer to round the season off nicely. Don’t forget that every match is a 4pm kick-off tomorrow so adjust your watches and alarms accordingly.
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