Rafa’s men will be looking to bounce back from Friday’s late heartache against Leeds, facing Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich Town in the 3pm kick off at Portman Road today.
Friday’s frustrating draw against Leeds United was a bitter blow to our title hopes, seeing us fall 4 points behind table topping Brighton, however, above all else, today’s game provides an opportunity to extend our lead over 3rd place Huddersfield.
The Terriers’ 96th minute winner on Friday, combined with us conceding in the 95th minute later that night, saw Huddersfield gain 2 points on us over the weekend and with that, see our lead over Huddersfield reduced to 8 points.
Huddersfield may have a game in hand, but it must be said that our fate lies firmly within our own hands, with today’s game providing the ideal opportunity to move one step closer to confirming our return to the Premier League next season.
Today’s opponents, Ipswich, earned a crucial win at Burton on Friday night, handing Mick McCarthy’s men a timely win, giving them a comfortable 9 point gap between themselves and the drop zone.
In the United camp, the quick turn around of fixtures comes at an ideal team for a team itching to bounce back. With title hopes and a place in the Premier League all up for grabs, I fully expect another energetic and enthusiastic effort from the team, who’ll be gunning for 3 points to make up for Friday’s lapse.
The 3pm kick off will be streamed live in the bars within St. James’ Park, with the latest ‘beam-back’ looking set to be well attended yet again. Whilst there will be no promotion celebrations should we be victorious, it would pile the pressure of Huddersfield, who face a tough trip the Derby in the late kick off today.
The two clubs will also pay tribute to the great Sir Bobby Robson today. A man who did wonders for both clubs and remains in the hearts of all involved at Ipswich and Newcastle.
The game will come too soon for Ciaran Clark and Rolando Aarons, with Dwight Gayle also set to miss out following a reoccurrence of his hamstring injury against Sheffield Wednesday last week.
DeAndre Yedlin is now fully fit and will be looking to make his return to Rafa’s side.
Daryl Murphy will be hoping to make his return to the side, with the prospect of facing his ex-club.
Former United centre-back Steven Taylor (hamstring) will miss out for Ipswich, along with fellow defender Jonas Knudsen (shoulder).
Newcastle United – (4-2-3-1) – Darlow – Yedlin, Lascelles, Mbemba, Dummett – Shelvey, Hayden – Ritchie, Diame, Gouffran – Murphy
Ipswich Town – (4-2-3-1) – Bialkowski – Spence, Chambers, Berra, Kenlock – Ward, Skuse – Lawrence, Smith, McGoldrick – Sears
FOUR changes from Leeds?
Anita OUT, Yedlin IN? The Dutchman was superb on Friday. It was his best performance of 2017, so this one would be for rotation purposes and by no means meaning Anita is to be ‘dropped’. Yedlin’s pace has been missed in the team and a return to the starting 11 could be a timely one today, giving Anita a much needed break, whilst providing the team with a greater attacking outlet to push us on towards 3 points.
Hayden OUT, Colback IN? Hayden’s return on Friday was a welcome one. He transformed our midfield. It was, however, his first start since February, with the 22 year-old missing a large chunk of action after ankle surgery. As much as I want him to remain in the side, I expect Rafa to rotate and play Colback, given Hayden will have had limited time to recover from his excursions on Friday night.
Perez OUT, Diame IN? The two often rotate and given Perez’s efforts against Leeds on Friday, I fully expect the rested Diame to return to the side in this one. Perez’s best performances may have came on the road for United this term, but I expect Rafa to opt for fresh legs and bring Diame back into the side today.
Mitrovic OUT, Murphy IN? Mitrovic was outstanding against Leeds. He put himself about, won his battles and brought others into the game very well. His performance fully deserves another shot in the side, however, with today’s game falling so soon after Mitrovic’s first league start in weeks (where he played the full 90 minutes), I expect Murphy to be given his chance. Being an ex-Ipswich player, the Irishman will also know the opposition as well as anyone, which could come in handy for Rafa and the team.
Whilst Ipswich will be boosted by their recent victory, Newcastle will be hoping that the Tractor Boys will be on their holiday’s after all but securing safety. Regardless of Ipswich, I fully expect the team to be bang up for this and ready to put right their devastating lapse on Friday night.
Their could be a few changes to freshen up the side after a tough game less than 72 hours ago, but I expect Newcastle to get back to winning ways today.
Prediction: Ipswich 0-2 Newcastle
Here’s hoping! Howay the lads!