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Match Preview: A Boxing Day Rematch

Happy Christmas all, tomorrow the lads the will have the first rematch of the season against the billion dollar boys of Manchester Citeh. I shouldn't have to remind anyone what happened the last time these clubs clashed, but I will for the shameless sake of word count. Last time we met Citeh, Nigel De Jong dejonged (it's a verb, I made it up) Hatem ben Arfa to the tune of a double fracture in the left leg. The fallout saw Nigel De Jong chastised justly by the FA and chased out of the EPL. Wait, that's not right, that was my "perfect world" dream. At least he won't be playing for the Dutch anymore... Though HBA is recovering at a blistering pace, said to be possibly returning as early as February, he will obviously not be present for this match in St James' Park. De Jong will be there however, watch your lower legs lads.

For me the best way to teach that miscreant a lesson, other than the expected boos every time the ball is on his foot, is to take the full three points Citeh. More than that, I think this team can do it. In that first game it was really hard not to say that with some quality referee work Newcastle gets the win, so hard in fact that I did say that. But on Boxing Day we can't be satisfied with saying that we deserved the win. We have to take it to Citeh from start to finish and let them know we mean business.

We also know that Kolo Toure will be sidelined serving his suspension for being sent off of the Everton match last Monday, and that should bode well for our defense which will have Coloccini and Williamson back to pick from.

After Nile Ranger's performance in the Liverpool game we thought him a shoe in to take a start from Shola Ameobi, but since the Birmingham game was postponed he may not see starting action according to Pardew:

"... I still think he has a lot to do to be a regular starter here. He was going
to start at Birmingham because I thought the impetus he gave us against
Liverpool would carry over. But that doesn’t mean to say he’s going to play
against City."
"At the moment, he’s probably still at the stage of being an
impact player to a degree. When I see a bit more of him in training, and see him
on time and being disciplined, that’s when I’ll feel willing to put him in the
first team."

Reasons we win:

Defusing the offense the way we were able to the first time we played ManC will again be key to earning three points. Although I hope we don't do it with that high defensive line we played earlier in the season, it makes for some heart stopping moments....

I'd like to see more action up front than we did in the last tie. The NUFC side certainly have the ability to give the ManC defenders problems but we'll have to be putting all the pieces together more often this time around.

Jonas Gutierrez has to get out of this funk he's been in and start playing quality football. When he's off it take El Toro out of the game and leaves the entire offensive workload to Joey Barton. Not bad hands to have it in, but a one dimensional offense doesn't score goals in the Prem.

Reasons we lose:

A part of this game (maybe a big part) depends on Chris Foy's attitude about the Nigel De Jong situation. If he comes into this game thinking NUFC players like Joey Barton and Cheik Tiote are out for revenge then he could be pulling cards too easily in this match. We know he has to be aware of the situation, let's hope he doesn't let it get out of hand in either direction.

Defensive chemistry could be a factor since Colo and Willo are both back, but Stephen Taylor has proved worthy of the starting spot. You'll notice that I've left Sol Campblel out of the conversation and I think we all know why. But if Pardew decides to mix and match with the other three let's hope they've got their roles sorted before the first whistle.

Prediction: NUFC 0-2 MCFC, at some point Foy will send Joey Barton off based on reputation, which will diffuse the offense and have the defense working double time.