Newcastle take on Nottingham Forest at the City Ground this evening as Carling Cup action returns to the fold.
Newcastle saw off Scunthorpe 2-1 after extra time in the last round whilst Nottingham Forest – coached by former England manager Steve McClaren – comfortably saw off Wycombe Wanderers at Adams Park in Round Two of the competition.
The last time the two sides met on the banks of the River Trent was in the Championship season. The result favoured the Tricky Trees on that occasion as Newcastle failed to even show up. Not being big headed or anything, but the best sight in a Newcastle shirt that night was arguably when I made it onto Sky TV.
That game was a one off however and it was Newcastle who had the last laugh in the end as they beat Forest 2-0 at St James’ Park in the game that effectively sealed our promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
A lot of water has passed under the bridge since then however. Forest failed to build on the promotion challenge they managed to put together that season and kissed goodbye to the manager who took them so close to the Premier League promised land. Both Billy Davies and now Steve McClaren have been critical of the clubs transfer policy (sound familiar?) and now the club are languishing in the lower reaches of the Championship after a disastrous start.
In contrast Newcastle managed to survive their first season back in the Premier League and gained some fantastic results along the way. The start to this season has been fantastic in terms of points even though the performances have been left wanting at times. Newcastle currently occupy a space in the heady heights of the Champions League places. It won’t last but I’ll enjoy it while it does!
Chris Cohen will miss the match this evening due to the injury sustained against Derby at the weekend. Paul Anderson, Gareth McCleary, George Boateng and Dexter Blackstock will also be missing through injury.
Forest lost the East Midlands derby against fierce rivals Derby County at the weekend. Despite playing against ten men for the bulk of the match they somehow managed to lose the game from a winning position in front of their own fans. The team they lined up with looked like this:
Lee Camp, Luke Chambers, Wes Morgan, Chris Cohen, Chris Gunter, Andy Reid, Jonathan Greening, Guy Moussi, Radoslaw Majewski, Matt Derbyshire, Ishmael Miller.
My reaction, not really knowing too much about the Forest team, is that it looks better than their league form suggests.
Alan Pardew will be without Dan Gosling, Alan Smith, Mike Williamson and Haris Vuckic for the trip to the East Midlands. Mehdi Abeid is back in training and is touch and go for the match but the big news has to be the likely return of Hatem Ben Arfa although it’s a return that is likely to be made from the substitutes bench.
It seems as though every time a Cup game comes along we have a discussion about team strength. Some want to name the strongest side possible with the hope of actually winning the damn thing whilst others are cautious about picking up injuries which could impact on our league form, especially with the lack of cover we have in certain areas of the pitch.
I happen to think there is room for compromise. On one had there are players who simply have to play because we have no other option. Then there are others who d have cover and have players behind them who have been impressing when given the chance. Players like Sammy Ameobi deserve a start in my opinion due to their limited appearances in the Premier League. If you can’t play them from the start now then when are you going to do it?
My team would look something like this:
Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor, Steven Taylor, Fabricio Coloccini, Shane Ferguson, Gabriel Obertan, Cheik Tiote, Danny Guthrie, Sammy Ameobi, Demba Ba, Shola Ameobi.
I’d then bring on players like Hatem Ben Arfa and Mehdi Abeid (if fit enough) from the bench. To me that team gives players who need the games another chance to get up to speed and also caters for those who have impressed in brief appearances by rewarding them with a greater role from the start.
Fun facts and stats
Nottingham Forest are unbeaten in the last four cup meetings between the two sides.
The last time Forest knocked a top flight team out of the League Cup was back in 1993.
The only ever League Cup meeting between the two sides ended in a 3-0 victory to Newcastle back in the 1974/1975 season.
Newcastle are yet to score a goal in the first half of a game this season.
I never get too confident when it comes to Newcastle. I’ve been kicked in the balls enough by the club I love to know different. Forest will be up for this and will be looking to atone for the disappointing result at the weekend by taking the scalp of a Premier League team in front of their own fans.
There will be a winner tonight. Whether it takes extra time and penalties there will be an outcome one way or the other. Hopefully it’s in our favour although there is most definitely a “banana skin” feel to the particular tie.
Howay the lads!
Date: Tuesday, 20th September, 2011
Venue: The City Ground, Nottingham