Date:Friday October 2 2009
St James' Park
Sat 3rd October 2009
Gary and the players admitted this was the first fixture they all looked to at the start of the season and the day is finally upon us. The chance of seeing a pair of exposed mammary glands on a Sunday morning while enjoying a pitcher of lager isn`t the only appeal of Newcastle. They do in fact have quite a large stadium and a once successful football team.
The likes of Michael "It`s only a flesh wound" Owen, Obafemi "Late twenties my arse" Martins and Shay "I`ll bomb your house" Given may have left, but they still have a very good squad and some players that actually don`t seem to mind playing at this level. They were deserved early season favourites to take the Championship title, and although they have enjoyed a great start to the season, a home draw against QPR in the week politely reminded them that this division is very competitive.
Cue Bristol City. On the back of a solid win against Blackpool they travel up north still chasing a first away win of 2009. On paper, expecting three points against one of the top teams in the Championship would be ridiculous and with a leading online betting exchange (ahem) offering nearly 7-1 for a City win, the great unwashed are obviously not feeling frisky.
Johnson is set to walk the players around St James` Park prior to kick-off to allow the lads to soak up the atmosphere, presumably to whet their appetite or maybe just to allow a few of the single lads to cop eyes on some fleshy tarts they may want to bump uglies with after the game. With over 40,000 expected to pack into the stadium, the atmosphere will undoubtedly be one of the best of the season.
I hope that City`s ability to limit goals early in games may come in useful on Saturday as an early Newcastle goal could prove to be deadly in front of such vocal support. It may also allow the lads to settle and realise that if QPR can get a point there, then City can at least equal it. After all, anything the Shepherds Bush Scumbags can do, we can do better.
Gary Johnson admits he is eagerly awaiting this fixture but is more than aware of what awaits them:
"It`s an occasion because of the atmosphere, the stadium, and the nature of the game - they are top of the table...We have to go there professionally. When we`re in possession we can`t give it away easily, and we have to work hard when they have the ball...For 90-plus minutes at Newcastle we aren`t going to be able to play at a non-stop high tempo, but we have to play a game that keeps them away from our box"
Newcastle boss Chris Haughton has mainly been discussing his player options but assured City:
"...we`ll be looking to take the game to Bristol City from the off on Saturday and I`ll be picking a team to do that"
Marlon Harewood could start after coming off the bench to score the equaliser against QPR and Argentine winger Jonas Gutierrez could feature after returning from a hamstring injury. Peter Lovenkrands should be fit and available for selection but Fabricio Coloccini, Ryan Taylor and sociopathic nutjob Joey Barton will all miss the game.
Experienced striker Harewood entered the squad immediately after arriving on loan and made a clear statement for a starting place after coming off the bench and rescuing a point for Newcastle against QPR. Quick, and with a keen eye for goal I suspect he will start and be one of their main goal threats and if given the chance to play regularly in this league all season I have no doubt he will score many goals. Let us hope he starts this trend later on.
McCombe is available for selection after serving a one match suspension but it remains to be seen if he can disturb the centre-back pairing of Carey and Nyatanga that performed so well against Blackpool in the week. Dean Gerken and Liam Fontaine have travelled with the squad but are unlikely to feature meaning Basso will start in goal. Paul Hartley has been confirmed with having shingles and could be out for some time.
With the likes of Kevin Nolan and Nicky Butt in the Newcastle midfield, this is likely to be where much of the battle takes place for control of possession. Sno has endeared himself quickly to the City fans with his quick feet and good eye for a pass, and he can really make the difference in the middle of the park on Saturday if he plays well. (Of course look out for Maynard too).
Newcastle have the joint best home record (with us) having just dropped two points which was against QPR earlier in the week. City meanwhile have only picked up 3 points on the road this season and as a result have one of the poorest away records in the league. Happy days.
Graham Salisbury from Lancashire.
1-1. Doubt we'll stop them scoring so a score draw will be a good result. If we can manage to get an early goal then who knows.
Sat 17 October
Bristol City v Peterborough, 15:00
Tue 20 October
Bristol City v Plymouth, 19:45
Sat, 24 October
Barnsley v Bristol City, 15:00
Date:Friday October 2 2009
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