Well finally it’s here! After months of waiting for meaningful football the Premier League returns, but what will the season hold for us this time around?
Time will tell on that, but right now we have Tottenham Hotspur to take care of as they roll up to St James’ Park with a new man at the helm looking to arrest an alarming run of form at the Cathedral on the Hill.
Andre Villa-Boas is the new man in charge at White Hart Lane these days and he will bring his Lillywhites to Newcastle looking to improve on a rather abysmal league record that has seen them win just three games on Tyneside since the inception of the Premier League, with the last win coming way back in 2004! Since then there have been six meetings between the two sides in the North East with Newcastle tasting victory four times and the spoils being shared on the other two occasions.
New signing Vurnon Anita is fit and ready to play a part although I’m not sure whether he will be given the nod from the start having only arrived from Ajax yesterday. It’s possible though, and both manager and player have said that he could be an option due to his fitness levels built up with Ajax, and they know far more than many of us do.
Besides that the news for Newcastle is pretty grim. On the plus side, Fabricio Coloccini and Papiss Cisse look like they will be fine to feature. However Demba Ba is struggling with a shin complaint and Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa and Cheik Tiote have trained this week but all have question marks over their fitness. Sammy Ameobi is definitely out.
The thing about Tottenham is that they are kind of rebuilding at the moment, and it’s a work in progress. Luka Modric is unlikely to play as he waits to finalise his protracted move to Real Madrid, but it’s up front where they have a problem with Jermaine Defoe being their only recognised first team striker at the moment.’Elsewhere Scott Parker is out but aside from that Villas-Boas has a full squad to choose from.
I’ll skip the history as I got carried away with myself and covered it earlier, so now it’s straight onto thoughts about the game itself.
If it wasn’t for the injuries I would be confident of a win for our boys to kick the season off with. This is not to say we can’t get a win regardless, but missing a few of our players hits us quite hard in certain areas and it kind of balances our Spurs’ relative weakness in attack.
Well I say weakness, but they still have Jermaine Defoe who has proved he is a top striker over the years and always seems to love playing against us, as does Rafael van der Vaart and Gareth Bale. However the one area where we are going to be at our strongest is in defence with a first choice pairing of Fabricio Coloccini and Steven Taylor flanked either side by Davide Santon and Danny Simpson protecting Tim Krul between the sticks.
It’s midfield where I worry though, especially in the centre and even more so should Yohan Cabaye and Cheik Tiote fail to make it. Personally I think Tiote will make it but Cabaye will miss out thanks to a lack of football in pre-season owing to tiredness, something that Tiote has managed to avoid while playing games throughout pre-season so his fitness should be at a higher level. If neither make it what are the options? Dan Gosling? Vurnon Anita? James Perch? I think so as I don’t think any of our young lads like Mehdi Abeid or Gael Bigirimana will be thrown in just yet.
Up front it’s simple really. No Demba Ba means Shola Ameobi will partner Papiss Cisse up front but before people scoff just remember Shola’s rocket from last season against the same opposition where he came off the bench and rescued a point for us. Shola Ameobi as a front two leaves me feeling less pensive than just playing Shola Ameobi up front on his own, put it that way!
In conclusion the time for talking and debate is nearly over, transfer speculation can take a back seat for at least a day or two and we can concentrate on that green piece of grass in the middle of St James’ Park once more. It’s been a long time coming…
Howay the lads!
Venue: St James’ Park
Date: Saturday, 18th August, 2012
Kick-off: 5:30pm – Live on ESPN