With promotion already confirmed, Newcastle have their eyes on a final day victory that could yet see them lift the Championship title at St. James’ Park on Sunday.
Our title hopes looked all but over just a few weeks ago, however consecutive defeats for Brighton have seen us close the gap to just a point going into tomorrow’s final day.
To simplify matters, Newcastle MUST better Brighton’s result to be crowned Champions tomorrow.
Brighton face a trip to Villa Park in tomorrow’s 12pm kick offs, with Newcastle relying on Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa to the Magpies a big favour.
Should Brighton lose, a draw would be enough; seeing us win the title on goal difference. Should Brighton draw, a win over Barnsley will be required to see Newcastle lift the trophy at St. James’. A Brighton win and the title goes to Chris Hughton’s men – regardless of our result against Barnsley.
Barnsley have just 1 win in their last 13 Championship games, losing 5 of their last 6 away from home.
Like recent opponents Preston and Cardiff, Barnsley have little to play for, lying comfortably in mid-table in 14th position
Top scorer Marley Watkins has 10 goals and 8 assists this season for the Tykes and could be one to watch tomorrow.
Jamaal Lascelles will miss out following groin surgery whilst Matt Ritchie is suspended.
Dwight Gayle won’t be risked but could return to the squad after taking part in first team training this week.
Vurnon Anita, Rolando Aarons, Jesus Gamez and Grant Hanley are doubts.
Barnsley will be without captain and first choice centre-back Marc Roberts, while on-loan striker Adam Armstrong is ineligible to face his parent club.
Newcastle United XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Mbemba, Clark, Dummett – Shelvey, Hayden – Perez, Diame, Atsu – Mitrovic
Barnsley XI – (4-4-2) Davies – Jones, MacDonald, Jackson, Elder – Scowen, James, Moncur, Kent – Bradshaw, Watkins
TWO changes from Cardiff?
Colback OUT, Shelvey IN? In fairness, Colback put in a steady display away to Cardiff last time out, however this is a game United need to win. With this in mind, I fully expect the more forward thinking Jonjo Shelvey to return to the starting line up.
Murphy OUT, Mitrovic IN? The Irishman was anonymous in last Friday’s win at Cardiff, looking a little sluggish and off the pace. Mitrovic’s lack of goals is a worry, but the Serbian’s all round play has been much improved in recent weeks. I expect Rafa to hand him another chance tomorrow.
With the title at stake, we have everything to play for whilst Barnsley could have one eye on their summer holidays.
I expect Newcastle to attack this one from the off and be full of energy and enthusiasm, with tomorrow’s opportunity likely to be seen as a real bonus given Brighton’s considerable lead at the top just a few weeks ago.
To win the title would be the cherry on the top of a successful season and I don’t see us slipping up. Let’s just hope Brighton do!
Prediction: Newcastle 3-1 Barnsley
Whatever happens tomorrow, I will stay to the end, celebrating our promotion back to the Premier League after a tremendous effort from Benitez an the boys.
Howay the lads!