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Newcastle United v West Ham United

Filed: Tuesday, 4th January 2011
By: Preview Percy

Petrol's up, VAT is up and train fares are up. The start of 2011 is full of gloom and doom. And just when you think the start of the year couldn't get any worse, here's Preview Percy to prove you wrong. Very wrong.....

Next up we have a long trip up the A1 and A1 (M) to St James' Park where we visit Newcastle United for a supporter-unfriendly 7.45pm kick-off. Thanks a bunch Premier League.

Now before I start a quick word for any Geordies that may be passing this way. A quick check of a routefinder suggests that the distance between the church of St Mary Le Bow in Cheapside, City of London (the site of the famous Bow Bells) and High Wycombe, birthplace of Mike Ashley in the county of Buckinghamshire is 31.2 miles. The distance between St James' Park and The Stadium of Light is 12.6 miles. So the next time you decide to blame some “Cockney Mafia” for all your ills bear in mind that you lot are roughly 2.5 times as Mackem as Ashley is “Cockney”. So unless you want to spend the rest of your lives being called “Mackems” try and come up with another epithet for your scapegoat!

Rant over, our hosts currently lie in 10th place which, is 8 places and five points above ourselves, them having a game in hand. Their last six matches have produced 7 points with wins over Wigan (1-0 away), and Liverpool (3-1 home), defeats to Spurs (2-0 away), Man City (3-1 home) and West Brom (3-1 away) and a 1-1 draw against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

Of course it's been all change since we met them at the Boleyn last October. Chris Hughton got the sack at the beginning of December, a move which, although not entirely unexpected, still met with almost universal disapproval from the football world. Hughton was replaced by Alan Pardew who had been jobless since his falling out with the suits at Southampton. The high point of Pardew's tenure at the Boleyn was of course the 2006 Cup Final. After that, of course, the Icelandic hoards descended upon us like an ash cloud from a volcano and by the end of the year Pardew was gone. And that's all I have to say on that one. Plans to bring in Bradford manager (and sometime Norman Wisdom impersonator) Peter Taylor alongside seem to have come to naught with Taylor apparently preferring to stay in Yorkshire.

There's been a few updates on the legal front on Tyneside. You may recall from an earlier preview that Andy Carroll had embarked on a one-man attempt to keep the various courts in Newcastle open. Back in October Carroll was bailed to appear for trial on assault charges on condition that he stay with skipper Kevin Nolan, the idea being that this would keep the striker out of trouble. This theory took a knock following tabloid “birds and booze” allegations following the 5-1 defeat of Sunderland. However, on the bright side for the lanky forward, the other court case that was pending at the time of our last meeting has been dropped. This would have allowed him to concentrate on this match were it not for the thigh injury that made him miss the win at Wigan. He'll be out for another week or two which will probably mean another start for Shola Ameobi, who put away a rather scrambled winner at whatever the JJB Stadium is called this week.

Over the past few months young Dutch 'keeper Tim Krul had established himself between the sticks in the absence of usual first choice 'keeper Steve Harper through injury. Harper had recovered enough to make the bench for the three matches prior to Wigan. However, he was restored to the starting line-up on Sunday by Pardew who declared him to be his no.1 and he will start tomorrow. In fact, there being no injury worries for the home side (other than long-term casualties Ben Arfa, Taylor (Ryan) and Gosling) I'd suspect that there won't be too many changes to the starting XI from that which prevailed over Whelan's mob on Sunday which would mean them lining up with Simpson, Taylor (Steven), Coloccini and Enrique across the back, and Barton (with whom some sources have us linked), Tiote, Nolan and Gutierrez (aka Jonas to save shirt printing costs).

As for ourselves, well there are no fresh injury worries. Kieron Dyer seems to have been abducted by aliens and taken to their home planet – which is probably even further away from civilisation than Newcastle. It's entirely possible that he may teleport his way into contention through some hole in the space-time continuum in time to face his old club, but it's not something on which I'd stick money.

In midfield, Noble's return to fitness might see him replace Kovac whilst Behrami is supposed to be “under assessment” though I'd be gobsmacked if his dodgy hip repaired itself this side of the transfer window closing. You may recall a similar injury that kept him out of contention at the start of the season. Coincidence? I doubt it. Cynical? You bet! Jacobsen's heel faces another inspection though I thought Ben-Haim did well enough against Wolves to merit a start at right-back.

Up front it'll be a case of who is feeling fresh enough to survive our squad rotation. Cole alternated between superb one minute and awful the next and I've lost count of how many air-shots he's made in front of goal this season. However, the two goals against Fulham were well taken and the last time we were up on Tyneside he enjoyed himself so, for what it's worth I'd start him though Grant may have other ideas.

Results have not been over favourable to us since the weekend and, without kicking a ball, we find ourselves back in the relegation zone. It's tighter than Chalks at round-buying time in there at the moment and one result can almost have you looking at Europe. Ok a bit of an exaggeration perhaps but as we saw at the weekend a leap of five places is entirely possible. Their patchy form suggests that a win ought to be possible up there – especially in the absence of Carroll. Whilst 3 points would be most agreeable, I think that this one has “draw” written all over it so my prediction is for a 1-1 draw, a result which, although not good enough to get us out of the bottom three, would nevertheless be a good return from somewhere that it is often difficult to go.

Enjoy the game!

Last season: N/A

Danger Man: Kevin Nolan – in the absence of Carroll their skipper can often weigh in with important goals.

Referee: Mike Dean – Something stinks here. This is the fourth time this season we will have had to endure the posturings of this disgrace to the game. Man Utd have had him only twice – and one of those was in the League Cup against Scunthorpe. At least we're not live on the box – occasions for which the Wirral Moron usually reserves his most appalling of decisions.

Daft fact of the week - The word “Geordie” comes from the ancient Viking word for “Mackem who cannot tell the difference between London and High Wycombe.” Probably.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

Your Comments

by mark
03:07PM 5th Jan 2011
''I would say Tiote is Newcastle's key man, he has been dominant lately and his abilty to nullify Parker in the last game was instrumental.''

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