Writer: Ross Molyneux
Date:Monday December 31 2007
2nd January 2007
With the Sword of Damocles (or Chris Mort/Mike Ashley) hanging by a very thin thread over Allardyce`s head at the moment and the Lion of Gosforth waiting in the wings, the game against Sven`s City side has taken on massive significance. It`s widely accepted that anything less than maximum points against the Massives and avoiding defeat against Stoke will lead to a quick end to the Big Sam era.
We were as unlucky against Chelsea as we were abject against Wigan, with only an incompetent 4th official depriving us of our first point at the Bridge since Clarence Acuna scored there in 2001. However Sam isn`t paid handsomely to be a nearly-man. His decision to bring Rozenhal into the team as a sub at the end and play him at left back ultimately undermined the positive way we were playing and encouraged 20 minutes of non-stop Chelsea pressure, which we (unluckily) wilted under.
He goes into the City game shorn of Smith, who suffered amnesia in a clash of heads with Faye. Cue jokes about remembering how to score. Geremi is expected to come in and deputise in four players` last appearances before heading off to Africa. Whilst Faye and Geremi certainly won`t be missed on current form and Martins` absence should be negated by Owen, Habib Beye`s departure is going to be sorely missed. The right back has really started looking that part of late and we are certain to be left with the poisonous dwarf Steven Carr to deputise.
Key man for this one should be Michael Owen. Given City`s shut out of Liverpool yesterday we`re going to need him firing on something near all cylinders to get past their brick wall of a defence.
Having watched Citeh against Liverpool what stood out for me was the fantastic form of Dunne and Richards. The pair were immense against the Bindippers and, coupled with the excellent form of Joe Hart, rightly kept them at bay. Martin Petrov tore us apart, in particular Steven Taylor, in the away game at the COM Stadium and Elano is rumoured to be able to return against us. City`s weak point is up front where Bianchi is hit and miss and they rely on the likes of Vassell and Mpenza to support him.
Key man should be Richard Dunne. Awesome against Gerrard and co yesterday, he`s been City`s player of the year for 3 seasons straight and a model of consistency. Far removed from the piss head he was a few years ago.
2006/07 Lost 0-1
2005/06 Won 1-0 Owen
2004/05 Won 4-3 Robert, Shearer, Elliott, Bellamy.
2003/04 Won 3-0 Shearer 2, Ameobi
2002/03 Won 2-0 Shearer, Bellamy
2001/02 Won 1-0 Solano (FAC)
2000/01 Lost 0-1
1995/96 Won 3-1 Ferdinand 2, Beardsley
1994/95 Drew 0-0
1994/95 Won 3-1 Gillespie 2, Beresford (FAC)
1994/95 Lost 0-2 (LC)
1993/94 Won 2-0 Cole 2
A reasonably drab 1-1 draw. Milner and Vassell to exchange goals.
Easy trips to Stoke then Old Trafford.
Date:Monday December 31 2007
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