NUFC v Blackpool - Match Preview
With both sides having been tipped as potential relegation candidates this season, the winners at St James could realistically be in the top four this evening. Despite the possibilities of a heady Premier League position, pre-match talk will undoubtedly focus on which of the new boys will make their debuts today.
Tactically, Hughton`s biggest decision is whether to revert to the 4-4-2 that demolished Blackpool last season, or to stay with the 4-5-1 that has seen a solid start to the season. Regardlesss of the decision, Harper is a definite in goal.
James Perch appears to be slowly growing into his right back role, with Enrique a certainty in the left slot. Coloccini and Williamson, who gave Villa few chances in the last home match, will be under threat from the immensely experienced Sol Campbell.
idfield provides the biggest headache, with Tiote now on hand to displace Smith, and Ben Arfa capable of steeping into the shoes of either wide players, Routledge or Jonas, or even either of Barton or captain Nolan. With 3 yellows in 3 games, Barton will be fearing that a suspension might cost him his place in the team.
Leading the line, Andy Carroll had recovered from injury. He scored both home and away against Rovers last season, with his 4 goals in 3 games making him the 4thmost prolific post-war Newcastle striker behind only Andy Cole, Sir Les and TE Beardsley.
Itching for a start will also be Peter Lovenkrands, who as well as scoring against Accrington Stanley, has 12 goals from 11 home starts in 2010. Shola will hope to have the opportunity to score, which would nudge him into the top 12 post-war strikers for the Toon.
Meanwhile, Holloway has shown daring in his approach to the Premier League, at times during their opening 4-0 away win at Wigan reverting to 4 up front. He will also, however, be mindful that the last away match at the Emirates ended in the same 6-0 scoreline as Newcastle`s last home game.
he man in possession between the sticks is Matthew Gilks, who started his career so well at Rochdale before being neglected by Roeder at Norwich. Ian Evatt, provides the height in defence, with Alex Baptiste having moved from Mansfield to the coast although doubtful for today. Stephen Crainey is a survivor from last season, with Cathcart who was a loan target for the Toon last year.
Captain Evatt, providing the height to combat Carroll, is on record as wanting to atone for the scoreline here last year.
he midfield will be familiar from last season, with Adam also a Newcastle target, had Blackpool not won the playoffs. Gateshead lad, Keith Southern is also doubtful in the middle with Welsh international and ex Real Sociedad player, David Vaughan an almost certainty. Varney, who scored last time out against Fulham should start.
The striking pair should include D J Campbell, formerly of FA Cup opponents Stevenage and Yeading, now signed from Leicester having deprived his parent club of a place in the playoffs when on loan last season. Scouser Gary Taylor-Fletcher could support. Marlon Harewood who played on loan at St James last season should also figure. Who will forget his role in changing the game at Villa a fe years ago, when crocking Given and setting up a Carew hat trick?
Referee for the occasion is Lee Mason, last seen by the Toon away at Middlesbrough in a 2-2 draw. Newcastle have yet to win under him, having also experienced a home 0-0 against Everton, as well as a League Cup draw at Watford and 4-1 defeat at Villa. Although he hails from the North West, his Blackpool record is 1 win in 7 games, most of the matches ending in draws.
This is the first Premier League encounter between the two sides, despite a history stretching back 113 years. The first FA Cup encounter, the first league match and the last League Cup and Championship matches all saw 5 goals, 3 of those results being 4-1. However, Blackpool`s top tier record against the Toon is formidable, avoiding defeat on more than 50% of occasions.
Today`s match should be tactically intriguing with a lively and friendly atmosphere between the supporters, as it was last season. With these two clubs, football should be a winner.
Newcastle v Blackpool at St James` Park:
31 W19 D3 L9 F62 A37
19 W9 D3 L7 F58 A36
Newcastle (from): Harper, Krul, Perch, R. Taylor, Enrique, Coloccini, Williamson, Campbell, Kadar, Smith, Tiote, Barton, Routledge, Gutierrez, Ben Arfa, Vuckic, Nolan, Carroll, Ameobi, Lovenkrands, Ranger.
lackpool (from): Gilks, Keinan, Cathcart, Evatt, Crainey, Vaughan, Adam, Grandin, Harewood, Varney, Taylor-Fletcher, Ormerod, Campbell, Eardley, Halstead, Basham, Euell, Sylvestre, Demontagnac, Coid, Husband.