Champions League chasing Newcastle United play host to title chasing Manchester City tomorrow afternoon in our final home game of the season.
It’s a sell out and has been for a long time as fans take the last opportunity to get behind their team on home turf and pay tribute to what has been a stunning season.
Indeed it could yet get better. At this moment in time we are guaranteed to finish no lower than sixth, but a win against Manchester City would guarantee us fifth place and would ensure that Chelsea would be unable to finish above us, which would be staggering and unexpected if you cast your minds back to what everyone had in mind at the start of the season.
Win, lose or draw we’ve had a great season. We have European football to look forward to for the first time in years and a best league finish since the days of Sir Bobby Robson. A resounding success I’d say.
Cheik Tiote is fit to play despite suffering a head injury which required stitches at Stamford Bridge midweek while Danny Simpson will undergo a late fitness to see if he has shaken off the injury which removed his ever present tag on Wednesday night.
Peter Lovenkrands, Steven Taylor, Haris Vuckic and Sammy Ameobi are still injured and won’t be seen in black and white until next season, or in the case of Lovenkrands, perhaps never again.
David Silva is set to play despite carrying an ankle problem although Joe Hart could be forced to miss the match after picking up a foot injury in the 1-0 win over Manchester United. He will undergo a late fitness test to ascertain his fitness ahead of the match.
Back in November we lost 3-1 to Manchester City at The Etihad, a score that was matched at St James’ Park when The Citizens travelled to Tyneside last season.
We have a dreadful recent record against City. Our last win came in 2005 when a certain little ratbag going by the name of Micahel Owen scored the winner but in ten Premier League games since then we’ve drawn twice and lost the other eight meetings between the two sides.
Tactics and team selection
I think the first thing to do is to keep things tight in the opening exchanges. Remember, all the pressure is on City so the longer we can keep them at bay and frustrate them the more they will feel it. Hopefully we can strike then, although conversely an early goal for us would have much the same effect.
With regard to tactics and team selection, we actually have a choice. Do we run with the 4-3-3 that won six games on the trot yet failed so spectacularly at Wigan? Or do we try the more conventional 4-4-2 which saw us grab an unexpected result at Chelsea in midweek.
Answers on a postcard please…
Match stats and facts
The last player to score against Newcastle on home turf was Nicklas Bendtner who converted from the penalty spot some 426 minutes of playing time ago.
Alan Pardew will be looking to guide Newcastle to a fifth consecutive home win for the first time in eight years.
Newcastle have won just one of eight final home games of the season since the start of the Premier League.
Newcastle are the only team who have scored more goals in the first half of a game (28) than they have in the second half a game (27) – one for those who claim we are slow starters…
Manchester City have scored more goal from corners (14) than any other team this season.
This is the 165th meeting between the sides. Newcastle have won 70, Manchester City 56 and there have been 38 draws.
Wouldn’t it be nice to end the home season with a win? There is a lot of focus on this match what with Manchester City and the title race, but sod that I say! We have our own reasons for wanting to win this game so should try our level best to do so.
If we don’t will it take the shine away from a wonderful season? Not a chance, but it will continue our flirt with Champions League qualification and will put more pressure on those above us heading into the final round of games next weekend.
That has to be an incentive surely?
Howay the lads!
Date: Sunday, 6th May, 2012
Kick-off: 1:30pm, live on Sky
Venue:St James’ Park