Another year and another visit to the North East`s answer to the city from Blade Runner. Smog filled towers and a desolate landscape awaits as we make the short trip down the A19 to see the Marietta Higgs` Fanclub try and break their home duck following a 2-1 loss at the (foam) hands of Blackburn. Having beaten Fulham on their last outing, Gareth Southgate`s mob will be full of confidence and looking to continue their improved recent record against us.
Last season it was a tale of two Nigerians, as Oba Martins hit the bar before Yakubu headed in unmarked from a corner for the winner. At home it was a predictably dour 0-0 draw as Roeder`s reign drew to a close. This year though there have been some considerable changes.
Smogmonsters Team News:
For Boro, Yakubu is on his way to Liverpool to put pen-to-paper on his ridiculous £11.5m deal, whilst Mido comes into the squad as a replacement for him after scoring against Fulham on his debut. Boro have also signed a couple of Egyptians to keep him company but don`t know whether they will figure. Big losses are Huth and Woodgate, unable to play (surprise, surprise!) through injury. The team that started against Fulham was:
Schwarzer, Davies, Wheater, Riggott, Taylor, Cattermole, Boateng, Arca, Sanli (Aliadiere 46), Downing, Mido (Lee 69), Lee (Hines 90).
Subs Not Used: Jones, Johnson.
Player to watch: Mido
Should do well with Downing providing the crosses.
Newcastle Team News:
For ourselves it`s very much as you are. I imagine Big Sam will make it 3 consecutive unchanged sides as our players suffered no ill-effects from the friendly games (at least those in contention anyway). Emre is still wobbling about on his dodgy ankle, Duff isn`t ready nor Barton, whilst Given and Babayar(wh)o are still missing despite starting training. The Dook and Geremi visit their old stomping groundvand should get mixed receptions.
Player to watch: Martins
Needs to keep up his goalscoring record with Owen breathing down his neck.
Did you know?
1. If we avoid defeat we’ll be one of seven clubs still holding an unbeaten record in the Premier League. The others are Arsenal, Blackburn, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Portsmouth.
2. We notched just one win in eight Premier League matches.
3. Four points after the first two games represents our best start to a league season in a decade.
4. Victory would make it our best start to a Premier League season since 1995, when they gained a 100% 12 points out of 12.
5. We won the first six matches in their 1994-95 season.
6. We’ve won only two league matches away from home in 2007.
7. We’ve not managed a clean sheet in 14 away league games, and one in 18; the goalless draw against Manchester City on 11 November 2006.
Home and away
League (inc PL): Middlesbro 35 wins, Newcastle 43, Draws 32
Prem: Middlesbro 3 wins, Newcastle 12, Draws 7
at Middlesbrough only
League (inc PL): Middlesbro 24 wins, Newcastle 14, Draws 17
Prem: Middlesbro 2 wins, Newcastle 6, Draws 3
Mike Dean (Wirral)
A snide 2-0 to Newcastle. Propa cushty.
Barnsley in the cup and Wigan in the league, both at home.