After a two week break where I apparently went to the most isolated place in the world where Wifi is deemed a futuristic luxury enjoyed by only the super wealthy, I’ve returned to the Sandpit to bring joy and cheer to the streets of Dubai and to write a new article for this magazine.
When settling down to write this piece, I had a myriad of thoughts about what I could write about. I was going to discuss the terrific way Sam has nurtured us over the finish line with a few games to spare after, it has to be said, a period where I had major worries we were nose diving into relegation oblivion.
I was also thinking about the Supporters Poll that I and many of you will have filled in which for me was a tad irrelevant as it had no questions about whether I was intending to travel to the Olympic Stadium from Dubai more or less times than the frequency of my visits to the Boleyn. Incidentally, by the time you’re reading this I should hopefully be safely ensconced in my apartment in Stratford or quite possibly already in the Duke of Edinburgh supping a beverage or two before the Newcastle game. First visit of the season for me but I suppose better late than never.
Now, as I was musing about the article, Manchester City v West Ham was playing out on my telly at home and pretty much went the way most of us would have thought before kick-off. I have to say it was a fairly encouraging second half display with an unfortunate sucker punch in the 82nd minute (great goal) and a bit of a laugh at Joe Hart in the 93rd. Generally, an expected defeat but some things to cheer and as always with West Ham some things to get frustrated about.
After the match I went on to the BBC’s website and filled out that Premier League Table predictor thing they have on there. I’d like to think I was pretty much unbiased, trying to put in scores I really did feel are realistic and possible. Ensuring the table was off the top of the screen as I was updating the fixtures along the way I was genuinely surprised with the big reveal after the last lot of fixtures to find West Ham had climbed to eighth.
I’d actually put in all my scores before the Newcastle v Liverpool, predicting a 1-1 for them. Not unreasonable I thought, Newcastle still need the points to be totally safe, Liverpool lacking firepower with Suarez enjoying his time off – so what, quite frankly, happened? With Pardew claiming before the game the match was crucial to get Newcastle to 40 points, could it have gone any worse?
So this had me wondering whether my prediction of 2-1 for this weekend is as accurate as I thought it was before that match. Just how does Saturday’s events affect this weekend? This match has taken on so much greater significance for Newcastle who are now even more desperate for three points.
beat us to secure their Premier League status for another year with the knowledge they host already relegated QPR the following Sunday and face a tough ask away to Arsenal on the final Sunday of the season. So how will Newcastle play? They say a wounded animal comes out fighting but are they beyond simply wounded? Have Liverpool delivered a blow so striking it could eventually become fatal?
Even if the 6-0 was a freak result there was simply no spirit, no desire, no hunger. The players Pardew bought in January seem to have disappeared off the face of the Earth and the defence needs to look up the word ‘discipline’ in the dictionary. And now they face us, a team who has only failed to score in one home fixture this season and that was against the defending Champions.
Suffice to say we create chances at home. It could even be said some poor tactical decisions at crucial times has robbed us of an even bigger home points haul than we currently have however good that total currently is. It’s almost inevitable Newcastle will make changes. It’s also guaranteed they will not play that badly again. What was clear though was how they could not cope with Liverpool players running directly at them.
Let us please kick off with all guns blazing. The strength and poise of Diame bursting through the middle and Jarvis galloping down the wing is sure to cause the visitors problems and wouldn’t it be nice if a certain Mr Carroll bagged an early strike to flag up a message or two of his own. Getting our noses in front early doors is bound to shake up a team already racked with self doubt and blow away any hint of confidence that last week was simply a ‘freakish one-off’.
They’ve taken a huge battering, they’re floundering on the ropes, it’s time to deliver the knockout blow. Do it early and perhaps we can build a nice cricket score of our own. Enjoy the game!