After a restful couple of weeks for the lads, the games are coming thick and fast again.
Chelsea on Friday, the Barcodes tonight and Sheffield on Saturday. I love it, as much as we know it’s not great for the players.
So it’s as per the headline really and I have a feeling this game could define our season. Win it and the wagon keeps on rolling. Lose it and I think it might be fair to say it’s probably indicative that the wheels are in the process of falling off.
I’ve been reading around and I’ve just seen the dreaded “Newcastle haven’t won since mid December”. You can guess what my immediate thought was. But we’re not the same team that we have been over the last few years.
I really ought to move away from that negative thinking, but I don’t feel we’re quite in that position yet. The draws at home to Sheffield and Bournemouth have ensured that loss of 100% confidence.
Squad news then and there’s nothing new. Pau Torres, Lucas Digne and Jhon Duran are all out, the young striker possibly until April, having done his hamstring. Why was I under the impression that he’d only tweaked it and it wouldn’t be for long? Unai has said we’re okay, because we have Zaniolo as a back up striker should Watkins get injured. I wish I was equally as convinced.
Still, I’ve consistently said we can score from all over the pitch, yet we haven’t been doing lately. It seems like we could do with someone to take the lead in helping us get our shooting boots on again and if Ollie was to get injured, you wonder who that might be. Then again, he needs to get his on first.
I’ve seen talk that Jacob Ramsay (the 100% definite target for Newcastle until Eddie Howe told them they were miles off) might be involved but I don’t think they’ll risk him yet. I can see this being a bit of a tough game and we don’t want him to aggravate the injury, which has already happened once.
Traore is still at the Afcon, I believe. Oh and Olsen is fit. Not that that matters much, as he won’t be getting on unless Martinez is in serious trouble.
As for Newcastle, they have quite the injury list.
Pope, Wilson, Barnes, Willock, Anderson, Joelinton, and Targett are all out. There’s some very decent players there and looking at that I can see why they haven’t reached the heights of last season.
And then to cap it all, Trippier, Lascelles, Almiron are all doubtful and Tonali is suspended.
Oh dear, how sad, never mind, to coin a phrase.
In all seriousness though, that is some list and hopefully it will be good for us.
What do I think then?
Well, this might be a bit controversial, but I’d actually drop Matty Cash and put Konsa in at Right back.
There. I’ve said it.
It’s just that his one decent effort on goal apart, I thought he was poor against Chelsea, as much as I saw he’d got good ratings in a couple of papers I read after the game. That and I just think he’s been off it for a few months now. I suspect the manager thinks it too, which is why he’s rested him previously. Why we haven’t signed a new RB or at least given one of the kids a proper go is something I find perplexing.
Which all of course, means Diego Carlos comes back in. I think that’s not a bad idea for this game, as he’ll help cover the back, which should let Luiz maraud forward a bit more.
I’d also be inclined to drop Diaby too, but I think Emery is trying to play him back into form, so doubt that will happen. He should though, be hooked at half time if he’s proving ineffective again, to be replaced by Bailey, in my opinion.
But what do I know? Emery often does things that surprise me and I’m sure he’ll do similar tonight.
Right, I’m sticking my betting hat on, as much as I don’t really bet and am going for a 2-1 win.
Losing this is unthinkable and I’m not even sure I’ll be at all happy if we draw it either.
In fact, I know I won’t.
I know you can’t expect to just keep winning games, but it’s this sort of game that sorts the wheat from the chaff and if we want to stay with the big boys, well, we just need to get the result somehow, as much as I see it being a bit of a bruising game, which will be played out in the midfield.
2-1 it is then.