Match Preview: Darlington FC vs. Newcastle United FC

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 07: Chris Senior of Darlington (right) celebrates with the trophy after the presentation for the FA Trophy Final between Darlington and Mansfield Town at Wembley Stadium on May 7, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Newcastle United opens its preseason with a friendly at Darlington on July 15.  The two sides last met on July 18, 2009, also a friendly, resulting in a 7-2 victory for a Newcastle side that were facing their first season in the Championship.  The Toon will presumably not be quite as amped up to prove a point this time around, though there will be plenty of new and young faces trying to force their way into Alan Pardew's squad.

I'm going to try out a slightly different format for the match preview this time around, which may or may not stick.  Let me know what you think in the comments.

Newcastle United FC

Out: Sylvain Marveaux (knee), Cheik Tiote (fitness), Fabricio Coloccini (fitness)

Projected XI: (totally shooting in the dark here...) Krul | Jose Enrique, STaylor, Williamson, Simpson | Jonás, Cabaye, Ben Arfa, Gosling, Barton (C) | Ba

Darlington FC

Projected XI: Your guess is as good as mine.

The Opponent

As Newcastle's neighbors to the south, Darlington doesn't need much of an introduction, especially to readers of The Northern Echo, who sponsor the stadium.  The Quakers play in Conference National (also known as the Blue Square Bet Premier), having been relegated from League Two in 2010.  They have had even more manager turnover than our fair club, but still managed to hoist the FA Trophy last season.

Developments

Alan Pardew named Joey Barton his captain for this match. (The Chronicle) It seems strange, but Pardew has already stated that newly crowned skipper Fabricio Coloccini will not play as he prefers to rotate his players in the preseason.  Also, is it possible that Pards is trying to make Joey feel better about being left out of the US trip on account of his visa being rejected? (Yahoo! Eurosport)

Interesting Storyline

Darlington striker John Campbell grew up idolizing the Toon and spent some time in the NUFC Academy, eventually being let go in favor of Andy Carroll.  He still supports the club and makes it to matches when he can, so it will be fun to watch him line up against the Magpies.  Read the story at the NUFC Official Site.

Expectations

Victories don't matter in preseason, but it doesn't matter how many times you say that, there will be a contingent of fans that will insist that the sky is falling if the result doesn't go Newcastle's way.  For that reason, I would love a win.  However, I'm much more interested in seeing what the new players have got.  I also expect Pardew to try and showcase the players that clubs are keeping their eyes on, such as Nile Ranger, Leon Best, and Wayne Routledge, among others.  Finally, I'm watching for crazy set piece innovations and a new formation.

Keys to Victory

  1. Don't get injured.
  2. Don't get injured.
  3. Don't get injured.

Fearless Predictions

Pardew will experiment with a 4-5-1, Krul will make several spectacular saves and botch an easy one, and Yohan Cabaye will impress.

I'm not going to predict a score, because...who cares?

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