St James’ Park
3pm, Saturday 14/3/20
(News awaited about whether this game will be played behind closed doors, due to the ongoing COVID-19 situation)
After a week consisting of two desperately needed wins, the mighty Mags are back on home soil this Saturday. We’ll be facing the Premiership’s surprise package, Sheffield United in a three o’ clock-er.
Like many, I had the Blades down as certain relegation fodder back in August, but ‘hats off’, they’ve been absolutely superb this season. Last term’s runaway Championship winners, Norwich look all but nailed on for a swift return to the second tier, and the other promoted side, Aston Vile are currently occupying the second relegation berth (mirth). The South Yorkshire club, of course came up alongside these two and it’s further testament as to what an amazing job Chris Wilder’s doing.
His side will start the match on Saturday in 7th position, some 8 points ahead of us. They’ve a game in hand on those directly above them and whilst it’s an outside chance, they won’t have given up on getting into that 4th Champions League spot, either. Mental.
Its been an all round effort, getting goals for the Blades. John Fleck and Lys Mousset lead the way with five apiece and then they have the likes of McBurnie and Billy Sharp with four. They’re not exactly prolific then, but are well organised at the back. Lundstram looks a player, Phil Jagielka was a clever buy and on loan Man U keeper, Henderson looks a future England prospect (Although not sure his manager is 100% happy with this arrangement – see last week’s weird MOTD interview)
Their hosts this weekend, will be feeling a lot happier about life in general. Getting through to the FA Cup quarter final and placing one foot firmly into safety was a canny week at the office. With our B&W glass half full, we can look back on some much better football played and a few goals too.
The one player who moves us from mundanity to mint-ness is St Max, and it was no shock that he featured heavily in both wins. If his trajectory continues in the same direction he’s going to be some player. A top four one, I reckon. Ashley’s NUFC ain’t going to be near those echelons any time soon, so enjoy him while you can.
Unfortunately, our upward momentum cameo was hampered by the crappy news of an injury to our wonderful custodian, Martin. He was fettled at St Mary’s and is probably out for most of the remainder of this season. His replacement will be Karl Darlow. A decent keeper, but not in the same class as the Slovakian.
Good news at NUFC is often in short supply. Injuries are not.
Anyway, enough blather – on to the Soothsaying section. Both sides have a bit to play for in this one and I reckon it’ll be lively. Our visitors are still sore from our 2-0 win at Bramall Lane in December. Dubravka kept us in it that night and our match deciding second was a rather large VAR controversy. Jonjo played to the whistle and not the flag. They were foaming. We were like, ‘aye, bothered.’
The Blades have won 4, drawn 7 and only lost 2 of their Premiership games on the road. They boast a +1 GD too. As I said earlier, ‘impressive.’ They don’t score loads but are hard to penetrate. We’re often the same. I’m going for a draw. Either nils or 1-1.