Our compatriots in promotion will be in Toon Saturday with their Dreamsicle digs and their near identical start to the season. Full preview after the jump.
The Dreamsicles are on their way, but we aren't worried
In their first three The Tangerines have earned the same four points our lads were able to, but with a much worse differential. They debuted in the PL with a 4-0 drumming of the witless Wigan side (one of our picks for relegation) at DW, and had the favor returned on them at Emerites to the tune of 6 in their own net, and then fought bitterly for a tie at home against a middle of the pack Fulham side.
Newcastle will look to have Blackpool's work cut out for them as they continue to defend a 26 game unbeaten streak in St. James Park. We expect the side to look much like it has since the start of the season, but the bench should be filled with all sorts of new faces. We all know how ready HBA is thanks to the seemingly endless stream of quotes coming from him, but also Tiote and Campbell should be available if Hoots wants them. We'd be willing to bet that Ben Arfa will see at the very least some second half play. All of the other M.I.A's (S. Taylor, Gosling, Best, and Guthrie) were expected, but Xisco will be available, and will get to wait till next week at Everton to serve the first of a 3 game suspension after the red card at Sunderland that has more than a few Geordies rallying support around the Spanish striker.
For our end we can't see that anything less than three points out of this game is acceptable, and we doubt Hoots sees it any different. The Magpies are slightly favored to win in all the betting odds we cared to check, and that's no real surprise to us. Don't get us wrong though, Blackpool are fighting for the same thing we are. We're sure they are targeting this away game as one they can get a point out of, we just don't think that at final whistle on Saturday they will have had the right stuff to do it. In fact we think the defense will be on their game and we know the Toon Army's ability to keep the ball out of our net (just ask John Carew), we are therefore calling for a clean sheet. Andy Carroll is fit, couple that with the fact that the Pool has allowed more shots on goal than any other team at 22, and our high shooting percentage, and we're calling for 3 goals from the team. When asked what BFC would do to stop big Andy Ian Holloway had this to say (qtd. from The Northern Echo
"Simple, step on his hair. On a serious note, what a good player he is looking. Carroll’s got to be close to an England call-up. He’s an old-fashioned No 9, and I don’t mean that with any disrespect. He can head it; he is strong; he is a threat when the ball is crossed into the box, getting his barnet or his foot on the end of it. "
"That is a classic English centre forward for me. They are a dying bread and it is brilliant to see him doing so well. Hopefully he won’t do well when we play them. But who knows? They beat us 4-1 last season in the Championship, so we’ve got to improve big time."
We couldn't agree more Ian, except for that last bit about hope. Hoots has pretty much said that the starting 11 has no need to change and therefore we don't expect it to, but we'd be really surprised if we didn't get to see HBA and Sol at some point in the tie.
Match Predicition: Newcastle United FC 3-0 Blackpool FC
Expected Newcastle Starting 11: Steve Harper, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini, Jose Enrique, Joey Barton, Kevin Nolan(skipper), Wayne Routledge, Mike Williamson, Alan Smith, Jonas Gutierrez, Andy Carroll
Bench: Tim Krul, Ryan Taylor, Hatem Ben Arfa, Cheik Tiote, Sol Campbell, Shola Ameobi, Peter Lovenkrands
Expected Blackpool Starting 11: Matt Gilks, Alex Baptiste, Craig Cathcart, Ian Evatt, Stephen Crainey, David Vaughan, Gary Taylor-Fletcher, Charlie Adam, Elliot Grandin, Luke Varney, Brett Ormerod.
Lee Mason (Lancashire) Last seen in charge of a Newcastle game when the Magpies drew 2-2 at the smoggies in March of this year. Thanks NUFC.com
for this info.
On the TV:
You'll have to be a subscriber to FoxSoccer.tv
to see this game in the US with any great quality. FOX will replay the game on FSC Sunday at 0830. You can also find the Game on the P2P List
, as well as ATDNHE