Craig Gardner is suspended after being sent off last week and Nikola Zigic will again miss out.
Newcastle have added Mike Williamson to their long injury list after he broke his arm in training.
Out last meeting was in February at St Andrews and ended in a 2-0 win to Newcastle. The last match at St James Park was in December 2007 which Newcastle won 2-1 with a very late goal by Habib Beye. Earlier goals were scored by Cameron Jerome and current blue Obafemi Martins. We did win 5-1 there in the cup earlier that year though, just thought I’d mention that.
Blues have won two, lost two and drawn two of their last six matches.
Newcastle’s form has not been much better having only won one of their last six games.
Tomorrow is the first of three chances to get that elusive point that will keep us. We should have secured our place last week but after Gardner’s stupid sending off we obviously decided that a point would be fine and stopped playing. Fortunately so did Wolves. In fact I don’t remember anything happening at all in the second half. Another game best forgotten in a run of poor performances. Like most fans I would consider survival and a cup win as a great season but we can’t dine out on our Wembley win forever.
Tomorrow’s game is not one I would have had down as a chance of points so it’s probably just a case of keep it tight and see. Next week at home to Fulham is the one we need to target so a defeat tomorrow will not decide anything. Newcastle are not in the best form and are suffering a bit of an injury crisis especially up front so if we can avoid mistakes at the back we can hope to get something. I’m never confident about us away from home though. We seem to sit back too much and invite pressure which recently has led to defensive slips and goals conceded. While we still have a goal difference advantage over those teams below us this would be eroded if we defend at Newcastle and Tottenham like we did at Liverpool.
Newcastle have done well in their first season back but I don’t expect them to be one season wonders like others have been. They no longer have the finances to worry the top six but I can see them remaining as a mid table Premiership season for the next few years. I do hope Seb Larsson doesn’t decide to join them as he has been our only standout player over the last few weeks and doesn’t look like someone who wants away. I’m glad he has kept his place in the team ahead of David “Sulky” Bentley. Craig Gardner’s suspension means that Lee Bowyer can be rescued from the left and Beausejour can start there instead. Newcastle play 4-4-2 so I don’t see why we can’t. With Zigic not being fit we don’t have many options up front. I’m a bit dubious about Zigic’s participation this season as he has reportedly been ready to return for a few weeks yet. Ex-Sunderland man Kevin Phillips will be looking forward to putting one past the Magpies in his absence. The biggest threat from Newcastle will probably come from their wide players Barton and Gutierrez and from Kevin Nolan making late runs into the box.
Games at the end of the season can often give strange results so let’s hope we can sneak a win and leave the relegation talk to other fans. I expect a narrow defeat though as unless we get lucky we never look like scoring away from home.
My prediciton Newcatle 1 Blues 0.