Saturday 22 December 2012 3pm Live On SKY
We’ll be told by people within the club that today is just another three points to play for but when you are sitting two points off the relegation places and playing the bottom team at home, anything less but a home win would be a massive blow to the morale of everybody connected to Newcastle United.
I don’t agree with those who think that we can just about write off the following matches against Manchester United, Arsenal and Everton BUT if United don’t win today then the players would go into these matches on a massive post-Christmas downer.
The festive period has often brought little cheer for the fans but a win today could be a platform to grind out further points form those three trick fixtures, creating an opportunity to turn the season around if the manager gets the essential reinforcements he needs in January.
The scene could hardly be better set with wind and rain lashing Tyneside, today really will be a day for players to stand up and be counted.
The visitors might have had some benefit from the new manager bounce effect but a tight win against Fulham plus draws against Wigan, Villa and the mackems doesn’t suggest that it has been an ‘Arry miracle just yet.
Recent matches have seen a more proactive approach of trying to put pressure on the opposition rather than standing off, it might not have yielded a massive points return just yet but it is surely the way Newcastle have to go and how they will approach the match today.
Yes we recognise most of the names on the Rangers team sheet but it is mainly down to either the fact they have been around a long time (old) or have made headlines for stuff that’s happened off the pitch as well as on it. If ever there was a confidence team then it must be Rangers’ odd mix.
If you let them play and get the first goal then they have got players of ability, when they choose to use it, if you get on top of them straight away though then any semblance of a team ethic will quickly disappear.
While we will be denied the pleasure of seeing Kieron Dyer back on our pitch today, they will have a team of players you recognise, despite other injuries to players such as Bosingwa, Ceasr, Ji-Sung Park, Johnson and Zamora.
Perch is the latest doubt for Alan Pardew with a neck injury while Obertan has returned to training.
Vurnon Anita was our overwhelming player of the match against Manchester City with two thirds of the votes and in the absence of Cabaye and Ben Arfa there will be a big responsibility on his shoulders to help get the ball into goalscoring positions.
With pressure from the first minute this is a match Newcastle United must, and will, win.