Friday, February 25, 2011

EPL: Newcastle v Bolton

I'm jumping ship this weekend.

Off to Newcastle to see Owen Coyle's Bolton take on the Toon in what some people call the best football league in the world.

That last time I was at St James' Park a chubby young scamp called Paul Gascoigne was playing for the home side. I was, obviously, extremely young at the time.

I'm indebted to Robert McCracken (one of the voices of The Commentary Box podcast) for providing a black and white preview of what I can expect:

Bolton visit St James’ on Saturday and in doing so they visit the team sixth in the Premier League form table. The Magpies will no doubt be looking to overtake Bolton, and if Everton do us a favour, Sunderland too.

I’m confident that the three points will be staying at St James’ and Bolton will be going home empty handed. After 6 games without a win the Birmingham result last week was vital. It was the first win since the 5-0 mauling of West Ham (Leon Best with a hat-trick?!) and although there were 3 draws in there too a win was a must to keep the Toon train rolling.

If Newcastle have aspirations of a top half finish and going by current form they should, then this game is a big one. Bolton will be in and around the positions that Newcastle will hope to occupy so snatching the points is a priority. The visitor’s away form isn’t the best, but it depends on the Newcastle side that turns up on the day – hopefully not the one that conceded 5 at the Reebok earlier this season.

Jonas proved himself as the player we all know he is with two superb assists against Birmingham and he could be vital in getting the result. His ability to get behind the full-backs and supply the killer ball is one of the biggest threats Bolton will face especially if he’s up against the aging Paul Robinson. Leon Best will be looking to make it 6 goals in 7 starts and with his run of form I wouldn’t back against it.

Kevin Nolan and Cheik Tiote have an important role to play in the middle of the park. Their ability outshines anything Bolton have in the middle of the park and they’ll need to use their presence and physicality to stop Bolton playing football in the midfield area. If they don’t do this then Newcastle will be easily foiled.

Newcastle have proven there is life after Hughton and Carroll, whether as fans we like it or not. A result against Bolton is never going to be season defining but Newcastle need to beat the teams round about them if they expect to be at the business end of the table. Pardew has the team playing with the same character and spirit that Hughton did – much to my surprise – so I’d be very disappointed if they didn’t bring Bolton back down to earth and end their winning streak. Let’s just hope the boys in black and white bother to turn up this time.

Follow Robert on Twitter @RMcCracken91

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