What is turning out to be a month of Sundays continues apace tomorrow when Paul Lambert’s Canaries make the trip to St James’ Park to do battle with Alan Pardew’s Magpies.
Interestingly this is Alan Pardew’s 500th league game as a manager. His record currently stands at 211 wins, 132 draws and 156 defeats during his tenure at Newcastle, Southampton, West Ham, Reading and Charlton. No doubt he will be itching for a 212th career league victory.
Standing in the way is Paul Lambert who is looking to guide Norwich City to their first ever league double over United. However, like us, Norwich have been stuttering of late and have not won in the last three games. Indeed Norwich will kick-off the game in 13th position – their worst league placing since mid-September.
Sammy Ameobi, Steven Taylor, Sylvain Marveaux, Leon Best, Nile Ranger and Peter Lovenkrands are all definitely out while news is awaited on Ryan Taylor who missed the Monday evening trip to Arsenal. Two fresh doubts involve Danny Simpson and Cheik Tiote who both picked up knocks during the match on Monday. The former looks like he might make but there are big doubts over the availability of Cheik Tiote. Steve Harper could be back on the bench as he resumed training at the start of the week.
Paul Lambert will welcome back Jonny Howson after the former Leeds midfielder was ruled out last week through illness. Daniel Ayala, James Vaughan and Marc Tierney are all still out with groin and hamstring injuries respectively.
I hate the term ‘must win’, especially when there is still over a quarter of the season remaining. Isn’t every game a ‘must win’ game?
Anyway, if there ever was a ‘must win’ game for Newcastle then this is it, especially if the players and manager are harbouring any thoughts of European qualification for next season.
It’s been four games since we beat Aston Villa. Since then we’ve been thumped by Tottenham, thrown away a two goal lead against Wolves, had 29 shots at goal and missed a penalty against the Mackems and lost to a 95th minute goals at Arsenal giving us a return of two points from the last twelve available.
Poor form indeed, but I’m actually quite confident that we can get back to winning ways tomorrow. We’ve been hard to beat at home and have only lost to Chelsea and West Brom on home turf. We also have a defence this time around, and regardless of whatever criticism is thrown at Mike Williamson that is something that we didn’t have when we lost 4-2 at Carrow Road earlier on in the season.
As NUFC_stats pointed out in his superb article yesterday, Norwich basically battered us in the air last time out. We had Danny Simpson and James Perch in the middle of defence, and against Grant Holt and Steve Morison – both superb in the air – they stood pretty much no chance.
This time we at least have some presence. They will still be a threat of course, but we are also better equipped to deal with it and should be looking to stifle any attacking play that comes from either wing.
The Canaries also aren’t the best defensively and have failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 28 Premier League away games. If they concede tomorrow they will take the record for most consecutive away games conceded in from Coventry City.
In short, we should attack attack attack. Play Benny, play Ba and play Cisse. They will cause damage.
Norwich last won at Newcastle back in 1988. They’ve failed to win a Premier League game at St James’ Park and have been sent packing back to East Anglia on the back of 3-0 defeats on each occasion.
Newcastle have conceded 16 goals in 2012, a stat not helped by letting in ten goals in the games against Fulham and Tottenham. Only Wolves and Blackburn have let more goals in since the turn of the year showing us exactly where we need to improve, and probably why we seem to be a bit more cautious in terms of attack at the moment.
Norwich currently have 999 Premier League points to their name. You can figure out what is needed to take them to 1,000…
Tim Krul will make his 50th Premier League appearance for Newcastle.
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 18th March, 2012
Time: 4pm KO. Live on Sky
Venue: St James’ Park