Date: Monday 26th Dec, 2011.
Referee: Peter Walton.
Dear readers, for any of you who were expecting some kind of “normal” match preview for this Boxing Day away game against Bolton, I am writing this after a fairly messy Christmas Eve Party followed by two nights of very little sleep (none at all last night) and a couple of days full of Champagne overconsumption, hence an in depth analysis of the Trotters’ own kind of “Champagne” football isn’t really on my agenda at the moment. However you may get a bit of team news, a bit of history between the two sides and some opiniated waffle this time if you’re lucky.
Stats, previous matches etc…
The two sides come into this game with Newcastle United standing at seventh in the Premiership, with Bolton standing at second bottom. However the two sides do have roughly similar records as Newcastle’s terrific start to this season has somewhat inevitably crumbled into ashes.
Five of Bolton’s last six Premiership games have all been losses, however unlike we Magpies, they have actually managed a victory in that period, their last result being a 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Blackburn Rovers. Meanwhile, while Newcastle United have only been defeated four times in our last six Premiership games, we have only managed to gain two points in that time, for draws against Manchester United and Swansea, which of course is one less than Bolton.
For all their current woes, Bolton’s “Trotters” have shown a bit of they’re capable of once or twice this season too. In the game before their losing streak described above, they chalked up a mighty 5-0 revenge mauling (for a 5-0 defeat in an FA Cup semi final last season) of the Premiership’s Pantomime villains, Stoke City. We could only manage a 3-1 victory against them earlier this season, but that was on their own (ever changing) home turf whereas Bolton’s victory was at their own place, the Reebok Stadium. In their opening game of this Premiership season too, they comprehensively beat Premiership new boys Queen’s Park Rangers 0-4 down in that London.
Some people may accuse me of yet more gloom and doom here, but we’re on something of a double bogey this afternoon. Of course, all of you long term fans out there with something approaching a memory will know that the Christmas / New Year games haven’t exactly been a happy hunting ground in recent times, and you may also recall that our record against Bolton at their place hasn’t exactly been magnificent either. Many will remember that our last game there ended in a 5-1 defeat in what was previous manager Chris Hughton’s poorest day at the Premiership office. We did manage a 1-1 draw back at St James’ Park later in that season though. Our record in Boxing Day games (home and away is Won 1, Lost 6, Drawn 3, meanwhile since Bolton first reached the Premiership under Bruce Rioch in 1995, our record in our ten games at the Reebok has been Won 2, Lost 8, Drawn 0. Still, attempting to put some kind of positive “spin” on these fairly abysmal records, if we do win, the victory will be all the sweeter, and even more with our current decline in form.
Before I move on to team news and such, there is one statistic which may be of some kind of significance, or not as the case may be – Bolton don’t seem to do draws at the moment, having drawn none of their Premier League games so far. Meanwhile Newcastle United have drawn six, with only Aston Villa drawing more with seven. Now I written that, it will probably be a draw!
Team news and squads
If you think that Newcastle United’s injury list has been rather well populated of late, then Bolton have been without midfielder Sean Davis with a knee injury for over two year now, and defender Sam Ricketts with his achilles for over ten months. Up and coming defender, Joe Riley, will definitely be out with his hamstring abd another defender, Marcos Alonso, will now be out with his foot until around February. Yet another defender, Tyrone Mears, broke his leg almost immediately after he joined the club from Burnley in August. Stuart Holden, another famous victim of Nigel De Jong’s infamous leg breaking tackles is not a defender, he’s a midfielder, but he’s another Bolton player who’s out for quite some time with a seemingly highly complex ligament/cartilage problem. The seemingly unlucky player was the victim of another horror tackle back in March, this time by Manchester United’s Jonny Evans which left him requiring 26 stitches. Then, we have yet another Bolton broken leg victim in South Korean winger, Lee Chung-Yong. Fianally, coming to the end of this long list of casualties, we have another Bolton midfielder, the vintage Ricardo Gardner out with his thigh. I wonder how the Newcastle United squad would cope with an injury list like that? Some of us should perhaps pause for thought we whinge about our own injury problems.
On a more positive note for the Trotters though, there’s a slim chance that the first two of that list, Davis and Ricketts may be making a comeback after their very long spells out. They’ve both taken part in a recent game for Bolton’s reserves but are still very much on the “doubtful” list due to match fitness like our own Mike Williamson in our last game. Defender David Wheater will be returning from a four match supension for picking up a second red card of the season.
On the Magpies side, Centre Back Steven Taylor will still be out for months with his Achilles tendon, ditto with winger Sylvain Marveaux and his groin, with Danny Guthrie still out for a few weeks yet with his own groin problem. Dan Gosling will serve the last game of his three match suspension for a straight red card. There are some reports about Peter Lovenkrands being out for a few games with his calf. The club’s official site mentions nothing about it, but as most of you will know, the official site can be pretty hopeless sometimes for an official site, so I’ll put him down as a “doubtful”. Another doubtful who is mentioned on the official site is Davide Santon with a knee injury picked up in our last game against West Bromwich Albion and he will undergo fitness tests before the game apparently. Finally, much needed centre back, Mike Williamson should fianlly be ready for a return of some sort after his two long spells out, firstly with a broken arm picked up in a bizarre weight training incident, then an ankle / foot injury picked up soon after his return from the first injury. Finally, Yohan Cabaye should be returning from the lesser one game ban he picked up for five yellow cards.
Which leads to to the squads.
Bolton Wanderers (from): Jussi Jaaskelainen (G), Ádám Bogdán (G), David Wheater, Dedryck Boyata, Gary Cahill, Zat Knight, Chris Eagles, Paul Robinson, Fabrice Muamba, Martin Petrov, Kevin Davies, Ivan Klasnic, Tuncay Şanlı, Mark Davies, Darren Pratley, David Ngog, Robbie Blake, Gael Kakuta, Nigel Reo-Coker.
Injured: Joe Riley (hamstring), Marcos Alonso (foot), Tyrone Mears (broken leg), Stuart Holden (ligament/cartilage), Lee Chung-Yong (broken leg), Ricardo Gardner (thigh)
Doubtful: Sean Davis, Sam Ricketts (both match fitness).
Newcastle United (from): Tim Krul (G), Rob Elliot (G), Steve Harper (G), Danny Simpson, Ryan Taylor, Davide Santon, Shane Ferguson, James Perch, Fabricio Coloccini (C), Mike Williamson, Tamás Kádár, Cheick Tiote, Yohan Cabaye, Gabriel Obertan, Hatem Ben Arfa, Jonas Gutierrez, Sammy Ameobi, Mehdi Abeid, Haris Vučkić, Alan Smith, Demba Ba, Leon Best, Shola Ameobi.
Injured: Sylvain Marveaux (groin / hip), Steven Taylor (Achilles tendon), Danny Guthrie (Gilmore’s Groin).
Doubtful:Davide Santon (knee) Peter Lovenkrands (calf).
Suspended: Dan Gosling.
Well I’m absolutely knacked now, so I’ll sign off soon, but not before reminding you that we will also be running our regular “match banter” feature which will go up around an hour before kick-off, and also some kind of match report and highlights too once the game is over so stay tooned! Oh! and
Howay the lads!
ps. I forgot to remind you that we will be featuring our regular “match banter” post today after all. It will be posted around an hour before the kick-off.