Newcastle entertain Arsenal on Saturday afternoon in what will be the first match of the post Andy Carroll era at St James’ Park.
The mood is gloomy around Tyneside at the minute, but a bumper crowd is still expected as ticket sales have remained impressive despite the less than inspiring transfer window.
It seems that I, along with many others, have been saying that the squad is down to the bare bones now through injury for some time now,but it is particularly pertinent in the striker department where we now only have Leon Best, Nile Ranger and Peter Lovenkrands as fit first-team striking options after the loss of Shola Ameobi to what is a suspected fractured cheek bone at Fulham on Wednesday night.
Shola will join Hatem Ben Arfa, Stephen Ireland, Steven Taylor, Ryan Taylor, Dan Gosling and Alan Smith on the sidelines whilst Fabricio Coloccini is a fitness doubt with a hamstring strain. It isn’t all bad news though as the home side will welcome back Cheik Tiote after his three game suspension.
Points on the board is a must, although against an Arsenal side that is one of only two unbeaten sides in the league in this calendar year you would have to say that we should probably prepare for no points tomorrow. Mind you, I said that back in November when the team went to The Emirates and we managed to grab a win so who knows? Hope may just spring eternal?
Assuming Colo is out, but with fingers crossed that he isn’t, I would go with a team that looks a little like this:
Newcastle: Steve Harper, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Sol Campbell, Jose Enrique, Joey Barton, Cheik Tiote, Kevin Nolan, Jonas Gutierrez, Leon Best, Peter Lovenkrands.
Arsenal are flying high in the league at the moment and currently sit in second place in the table. It isn’t all sweetness and light for them though as they carry their own injury problems at present.
In-form Samir Nasri will miss the game with a hamstring injury as will Brazilian midfielder, Denilson. Alex Song has also been ruled out and will join Thomas Vermaelen, Emanuel Frimpong and Lukasz Fabianski on the sidelines. Sebastien Squillaci will return from his ban for the trip to St James’.
Arsenal beat Everton 2-1 in midweek to keep their title hopes alive. In that match they lined up with a team of:
Arsenal: Wojciech Szczesny, Bacary Sagna, Johan Djourou, Laurent Koscielny, Gael Clichy, Alex Song, Jack Wilshere, Theo Walcott, Cesc Fabregas, Tomas Rosicky, Robin van Persie.
Newcastle have only beaten Arsenal twice in the last 16 Premier League meetings between the two sides, with one of those victories being the 1-0 win at The Emirates earlier on in the season.
Kevin Nolan is still searching for his 50th Premier League goal and if he can find time is schedule of praising other clubs he could get it tomorrow. Hopefully.
It doesn’t need me to tell you that this will be a tough match, but at least we won’t be wearing that horrible blue away kit again. We are at home so I expect us to have a go at them, but ultimately that could prove to be our downfall.
I’d love all three points, would be happy with a draw, but can only see a defeat unfortuately.
Howay the lads!