Newcastle United travels to Bloomfield Road on Saturday to take on Blackpool in a battle of newly promoted sides. Blackpool finds themselves in the drop zone following a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Wigan Athletic, while Newcastle have recently cracked the magical 40 point barrier in their quest for survival. The two teams last played in September, with Blackpool emerging victorious by a score of 2-0.
Follow the jump for this week's match preview, including CHN's Keys to Victory.
18th place, 33 points, 9-6-18
Injured (Out): David Vaughan
Injured (Questionable): Chris Basham, David Carney
Projected XI: Gilks | Baptiste, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey | Grandin, Adam, Puncheon | Taylor-Fletcher, Campbell, Varney
Newcastle United FC
9th place, 40 points, 10-10-13
Injured (Out):, , ,
Projected XI: Krul | Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Jose Enrique | Barton, Tiote, Ireland, Jonás | Ireland, Ameobi
Match Official: Martin Atkinson
The hallmark of Newcastle's 2010-11 campaign has been inconsistency. They've shown up, to some degree, against the big boys, but have also laid some stinkers against teams that currently populate the bottom quarter of the table. It would be no surprise, then, if the Magpies were to follow up their positive result against Manchester United with a sub-par performance against the Tangerines, a team that, despite their colorful manager's protests to the contrary, are really quite happy just to be here.
To be fair, a loss this weekend wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. The results of these final few weeks aren't likely to mean much as far as the table is concerned. Newcastle are probably out of danger and are definitely out of European contention, so these games are about building confidence and seeing what you have in a few key players, such as Stephen Ireland.
You never want to concede a game before it's started, though, and Newcastle would be wise not to look past Blackpool. Last time the Toon visited Bloomfield Road, the home side managed two goals off of rebounds to secure a 2-1 victory. This is a team that will score goals, and they are not to be taken lightly.
Keys to Victory
1) Stephen Ireland must be as advertised.
Charlie Adam causes a lot of problems by handling much of his distribution from the back, making quick, incisive passes before blowing past his marker. Ireland is supposed to be a player who plays well in space, and he showed his keen awareness in a small sample size in the Man Utd match. If he can keep Adam in his pocket, the rest of the midfield should be able to handle their jobs.
2) Newcastle must produce something of substance on the counterattack.
The Toon has proven quite capable of counterattacking teams that push too far up the pitch, and you can be sure that Blackpool will do exactly that multiple times in this game. The problem usually comes when it's time to finish the ball. The Tangerines' defense is quite porous, so if the strikers can't put shots on goal in this match, maybe they never will.
3) Newcastle must exploit Blackpool's right side.
The left side, featuring Jose Enrique Sanchez and Jonás Gutiérrez (by the way, do you think the Argentinean Inquisition works as a nickname? I think it does...), has easily been the strong point of the Newcastle formation. I say get Jose Enrique involved. Maybe, just maybe, he'll have so much fun out there he'll never want to leave. Hey, a guy can hope, right?
Prediction: Newcastle 3, Blackpool 2
If Newcastle don't take care of business, they'll know that they've been Tango'd.