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Toon must be careful not to slip up! Newcastle v Middlesbrough match preview.

Posted on December 19th, 2009 | 22 Comments |

Due a change in fortune?
Due a change in fortune?
The weather might well stop this as a contest before it’s even begun, but given the start the teams have made to the season, allied with Gordon Strachan’s unenviable record at St James’ Park and our recent record at home against the Smogs, few would bet on a Boro win in Sunday’s Tyne-Tees derby. And of course this is the sort of occasion when that’s bound to happen.

Boro come into Sunday’s game with a number of key players missing – Sean St Ledger’s loan has now ended and he’s returned to Preston North End. Jonathan Franks and skipper Gary O’Neill should return but Jeremie Aliadiere, Didier Digard, Adam Johnson and Seb Hines miss out, while Chris Riggott is rated as doubtful.

Middlesbrough started the season brightly but their form has dipped, and they have found themselves mid-table. Their form under Strachan is also questionale having picked up 4 points from a possible 21. But they have been stronger away from home and their last away fixture included 3 of those points under Strachan when they thumped QPR, 5-1 at Loftus Road.

So with that in mind, and the fact that it’s a derby game, we should be anything but complacent. Boro youngster Tony McMahon spoke to The Chronicle and revealed the Tyne-Tees battle at St James’ Park means everything to Middlesbrough. McMahon remembers only too well 3-1 loss suffered on Tyneside last season and the relegation that followed, and knows they must avoid defeat at all costs:

“My preparations started early this week. Every local lad would be the same. “We do not really like Newcastle – it is as simple as that. We have to put one over them.”

“What happened last season when we lost is still there in our minds, and so is relegation. Everything about that game is still there and we need to win.”

Talking about our start to the season, McMahon then said:

“This is what the league is about – you need to grind out results. They have not played well, but they have ground out results. We, too, need to be solid at the back and nick the odd goal. If we can keep clean sheets, we have a better chance.”

“We want to make a statement to the rest of the league. If we win tomorrow, we will be right back in the promotion hunt. However, if we lose we are going to be some way behind. We are not thinking about losing, we want to close that gap. I think a statement is needed, as the gap is too big for our liking. We need to close it and start winning games. That has to start tomorrow.”

In the Toon camp, Chris Hughton is confident we can continue to maintain our unbeaten home record, having won eight and drawn two at home so far. He said:

“It’s something we’re desperate to maintain,”

“There’s going to be another massive crowd here, which is incredible for this division. But more than that, for us, it’s about three points. We can talk about derby games whenever they come around, and the importance of derby games, and all of those things are fact.”

“But the fact is we’re at home, and whoever we’re playing against, the objective has to be to win the game and get three points. It will be another big occasion for our supporters, and we have got to make sure we guard against the things that possibly could go wrong.”

We’ll be without Andy Carroll following his yellow card at Barnsley, which was his fifth of the season. Hughton didn’t risk Danny Guthrie down at Barnsley but he will return, as will Danny Simpson who was dropped for tactical reasons at Oakwell. Zurab Khizanishvili’s loan period has now ended and he’s returned to Blackburn Rovers, while both Joey Barton and Haris Vuckic remain sidelined.

Other than that, we have a fairly full squad, who seem in good spirits following their Christmas Do ‘dance-off’ and with the way things have been going on the park this season, you can really only see a battering for the Smogs, can’t you? What was that I was saying earlier…

Ah bollox, let’s just hope it’s not snowed-off and I can make it through to the game on our rubbish Public Transport.

And assuming it is Howay The Lads!

NUFCBlog Author: bowburnmag bowburnmag has written 234 articles on this blog.

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22 Responses

  1. I just hope we start in attack with 2 up top. I hate when we sit back and let them attack us Thats the last thing we want to do with them looking to put one over on us

  2. x factor – are you going to the game tomorrow you soft get , at a push i could probably meet up with you for a bevy or 2.

  3. Should be a good game, with both sides anxious to win. Three points would give The Toon a decent lead and a psychological lift that could allow us to finish the season in first place.
    Being the front runner could also helps in attracting possible signings, it would be almost the same as signing for a PL side.
    Watched the Man. Citeh game, Bellamy is such a great little player, probably playing better than any time in his career.
    Appears Chelsea are favorites for the league, but the fact any team can be beaten on any given day makes things interesting, look at Man.U. and Liverpool,both beaten by lower level sides to-day.
    And at this time doubt if either has the funds to go out and recruit any big names.
    We seem to be seeing more parity in the league with Spurs and Villa competing at the top level, there`s few gimme games anymore.
    Makes one wonder how we would do in the PL if
    promoted ?

  4. so you travel all the way from spain to watch the game on the beeb ? – you obviously haven’t been circumcised.

  5. “We do not really like Newcastle – it is as simple as that. We have to put one over them.”

    whoever made this statement…. CH has to, no, it demands him to get these lads to understand the depth that newcastle is the premier team in this part of the country… and we’ve been lucky in regards the rsults in a lot of the games, and dont get me wrong, we’re in a great position… but against the smoggies, we lay down our character and commitment… it will be hugely positive for the rest of the season… the rest of the championship already feel we’ll win the league but this will just reassure it… especially when we beat WBA at home whn it comes round

  6. Hi, many of you going to Plymouth in the FA cup? Hoping to get tickets tomorrow, will be my first away game, hope the weather’s a bit warmer come Jan tho! 3-2 to us today with a 90th minute winner for Ranger, will make for great telly hopefully!

  7. cornish – I was meant to be heading down for New Year and hoping to sneak a ticket but doesn’t look like the holiday is going to happen, so neither will my trip to Home Park I imagine.

  8. Today I think will depend on our start, we need to smash them fast and hard and unlike Posh we cant just sit back

  9. Aye Yacka.

    Houhton’s tactics are very questionable at times and although we have shown strength at the back, our main problem is scoring goals. When Newcastle have scored early they have sat back too many times and shut up shop. This has been acceptible so far but in the prem its a different ball game altogether.

    I don’t really care too much for statistics, apart from the vital ones but on paper it seems nothing but a straight forward win for the Toon today.

    As Toon supporters, we have learnt not to take anything for granted. Who in their right minds would have foreseen the mackems – against all statistics, winning at SJP last season? I can’t help thinking that if Newcastle had gone on to win that game, things would be so bliddy different now. Absolutely no credit to the smbs for that though, we were shite.

    Stachan’s a good manager who is greatly admired by players and fans alike. With plenty of games to go, he should do well there and put the smoggies in a good position for promotion.

  10. Arthur – Facts need altering. Mackems didn’t win at SJP last season. It was a draw, 1-1, with an Ameobi penalty i believe. I was there, I saw it with my own eyes. They beat us at their hovel though.

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