Today we welcome another relegation rival to Gallowgate. Watford's visit to St James' Park last month was the last time we had a 'must win' game. We lost that day. Hopefully we'll do better this time out though I must say I'm expecting the worst.
Having lost 6-1 last time out we head into this game thinking 'can it possibly get any worse?'. With this squad it probably can. Any sort of defeat today would be worse. Hopefully though it'll be ninth time lucky and we'll get our first win of the season.
The Premier League table isn't pleasant viewing. We are rooted firmly to the bottom and even a win today would see us remain in the bottom three. Thats how far adrift we are already.
The international break hasn't been too kind to us. Tim Krul is a sad casualty though it shouldn't make too much difference. We're s**** with him and we'll be s**** without him. McClaren seems to think he's worth 18 to 20 points a season. If we've just lost 18 to 20 points then we might end up being the first Premier League team ever to finish on minus points. Although McClaren also said Sissoko is our best player and he wants to build a team around him so his opinion shouldn't be taken too seriously.
We've won just one of our last 19 Premier League games which is a pretty spectacular achievement. You have to be quite bad to manage that. This season we've not won in the Premier League and our only victory was against League 2 Northampton Town in the League Cup. This season we are the Premier League's joint lowest goalscorers with just 6 in 8 games. We've conceded 17 goals this season and only Sunderland, 19, have conceded more than us. We've also lost 7 points from winning positions this season which is more than any other team.
Since this match preview has been quite negative due to how s**** we are I've tried to include at least one paragraph on the positives. Though this is clutching at straws a bit. Even the most optimistic fans will struggle to get excited but there aren't any positives to write about other than these stats. We are unbeaten in our last 5 games against Norwich and we've kept clean sheets in 4 of them. Norwich haven't kept a clean sheet this season. Norwich have only won one away game this season which was against Sunderland.
Expected lineups and prediction:
Expected Newcastle United line up :
<janmaat> <mbemba> <colo> <haidara>
<sissoko> <anita> <colback> <wij>
Haidara, Dummett and Mbabu are expected to have recovered from their injuries. Personally I'd drop captain calamity Coloccini due to his recent performances and play Dummett at CB alongside Mbemba with Mbabu at LB. I suspect however that McClaren will go with Coloccini and Haidara instead unfortunately. Thankfully Janmaat has recovered from his knock so at least the Janmaat - Mbemba half of the defence will be competent.
In midfield the cowardly, gutless and spineless Sissoko is likely to retain his place in the starting line up despite not even deserving a place in the match day squad. Wijnaldum is expected to be pushed out wide again with Colback recovering from his knock to partner Anita in CM. I'd drop Sissoko and I wouldn't start Colback and Anita together either. Neither do enough but I'd probably leave Colback out as Anita is the slightly better of the two. I'd like to see us work a way into the team for De Jong. However McClaren doesn't seem to be tactically astute enough to do that.
Mitrovic and Perez are expected to start. It'll be a shock if they don't and a decision that won't go down very well at all. For me Mitrovic, Janmaat and Perez are the only three players that would automatically be on my team sheet. Possibly Wijnaldum and Mbamba as well. The others I wouldn't miss at all.
Expected Norwich City line up :
Whittaker Martin Bassong Brady
Jarvis Hoolahan Redmond
Wesley Hoolahan is the player to watch out for in this game. Not least because of his brilliant name. The Irishman has registered 5 assists so far this season and is his sides main creative force.
Never thought I'd be worried by a Norwich side, especially this one. Just goes to show how far we've fallen.
I can't look past a Norwich win. The pressure is all on us. It's a must win game. A relegation 6 pointer despite it only being October. Our squad is weak mentally, we don't cope well under pressure and confidence is very low. The team have a losing mentality and I see this going the same way as Watford at home. Also Norwich have started well for a newly promoted team. At best I think, hope, we can snatch a draw. Sadly though, deep down, I don't feel like this will be anything but a Norwich win. My prediction is Newcastle United 1-2 Norwich City.
A word from the gaffers:
Steve McClaren wrote:At the present moment, being in the top eight is miles away. It's all about getting to that 40 point mark, then you can think about other things. That's the focus and if someone said to me now you'll have 40 points by mid-April I'd take it. People would think I'd gone absolutely daft and crazy if I was sitting here now saying we'd turn that down. I remember having conversations with Harry and he used to have a massive party whenever he got to 40 points, whether that was in November, March, April or whenever.
If you look at the history, you'd certainly have to say we've lost a fair few games. How do you set about changing that? We've challenged them to perform for 95 minutes like they did for 45 at City and against Chelsea. That's how you win but right now, we're getting little setbacks that are causing us to disintegrate. They're shattering the confidence and belief. Everyone can see that. We need to address that but I really believe there's a win around the corner. We don't quite know where but once it happens, we get the monkey off our backs and the shackles are released.
Losing Tim Krul is a massive blow for us, you're talking about one of the best players in our team. He's a vital player, very important, and he'd get us 18 or 20 points a season with the way he plays. To lose that is devastating. We've had a couple of days to get over it, but for him, the shock of starting to get injured is starting to appear. In the last day or two, he's been a little bit down, but that's football and he'll recover. He'll get the best treatment and a good operation, and we wish him well with that. In the meantime, it's time for Rob Elliot to step forward and fill his boots. He needs to step up and perform.
When Krul's injury happened, people who have worked here for many years were saying, 'For some reason, it's always Newcastle'. Here, it just seems to be one disaster after another.But you have to get on with it. This is football, and this is what happens. I couldn't believe the text I got on Saturday evening. It was incredible because I'd just spoken to Tim earlier in the day to wish him luck, and he'd said he was on the bench and wouldn't be playing. I said, 'Well, at least you'll be fit for next week'. So to get that text didn't exactly make my night.
Norwich have been very good, very good. It's not surprised me at all that the three promoted teams have started quite well. They have got the buoyancy and the confidence of promotion, the nucleus of the squad stays, they add very well and they can be a handful at the start, which they are proving. I saw them (Norwich) against West Ham - they could have won that game, should have won that game, and Leicester, they shouldn't have lost that game, so this is not going to be easy.
We have created a lot of chances and if we could turn more into goals that would be good, so being more clinical at the top end of the pitch. Not just the strikers, because we get a lot of opportunities from midfielders and full-backs, but if we can turn more of them into goals it obviously helps. We also need to brush up on set pieces. We are not overly big as a team but we need to work on organisation and to try to improve that.
Dieumerci (Mbokani) wasn’t playing because of any fitness issue. He was probably fit enough to start but Cameron (Jerome) has been doing well and delivering what I asked of him, so that meant he had to bide his time. I have selection decisions to make not just in that position but across the whole team and I will pick the side I think is best-equipped to deal with what Newcastle have.
I know what I want to achieve with the team. I want to stabilise the club in the Premier League and have a team that every year is trying to do better and better. We deserve to be here, we came from seventh to get promoted. The players merit their position in the Premier League and we will fight tooth and nail to maintain that.
I think this game probably applies more pressure to Newcastle rather than anything else, having not won and certainly being at home as well. There will be a lot of pressure from their fans for them to go and win the game. We're desperate to win the game as well, so we need to make sure that we approach it properly. If we can do as well as we can, then we've got a good chance. They'll be very similar to Derby County when Steve was there. They're quite expansive when they've got the ball, and it's going to be an open match I think. Hopefully we can come out on top. [/quote]
Mark Lawrenson wrote:Like the other promoted teams, Norwich are doing OK so far - even though they are short of a striker.
Newcastle, meanwhile, are in all sorts of trouble. They were all right until half-time of their last game against Manchester City, but the way they then fell apart shows how frail they are.
Despite their poor start to the season, I would still say they should stick with their manager Steve McClaren because I think they will be fine in the end.
I am at St James' Park on Sunday for Match of the Day 2 and I am expecting to see a bit of good news for the Magpies at long last.
It is almost as if things cannot get any worse. They are already bottom of the table and having goalkeeper Tim Krul ruled out for the season is another big blow, but I think they will react to being under such massive pressure by finding a way to beat Norwich.
They really need to because the Wear-Tyne derby is next up for McClaren, and Newcastle have got a horrendous record in that fixture in recent seasons.
Prediction: Newcastle United 2-1 Norwich City
Sky Sports 1 & Sky Sports 1 HD
beIN Sports 1 HD (Indonesia)
Canal+ Sport (France) +HD
DIGI Sport 1 (Cz/Slov)
Fox Sports HD Italy
Fox Sports 4 (Australia)
MTV Sport 1 (Finland)
NBC Sports Live Extra (USA)
SportKlub 1 Croatia/Serbia
SuperSport 5 Africa
TC Live 2 HD (Switzerland)
TV3 Sport 2 (Den)
Viasat Football (Sweden) +HD
BBC Newcastle (North East Only)
BBC Five Live Sports Extra (Nationwide)
MOTD2 Special - From St James' Park - BBC 1 -22:30.