Job done. Presents unwrapped, unnecessary amounts of food and drink consumed and now the proper stuff can begin! Premier League football on Boxing Day (my favourite part of this whole holiday if I’m being honest) and even more anticipated since we’ve had to wait over 6 weeks since the last time Newcastle United kicked a ball in this competition.
Just as a reminder, not that we need it but always nice to say at the minute, we sit in THIRD place, four points clear of 5th and a mere two points behind the current champions who we could leapfrog into second with a win today. We’ve lost once this season – that was back in August, won our last five – the only team in the premier league to do so, and have the joint best defence in the league. Basically, we’re class and I’m buzzing for today.
🎧 So many great #NUFC podcasts this week on our Patreon page:
• Prem Patter with @MichaelCreane and @bjwade3
• Bournemouth Matchday and Instant Reation with @SimonCampbell11 and @bjwade3
•Main Free pod (ad free) with Si @charlottehope and @JGreenwoodNFTV
— True Faith: Newcastle United Podcast (@tfNUFC) December 24, 2022
Speaking of job done, I think that sums up our return to competitive action earlier this week against Bournemouth. I sensed a bit of rustiness further up the pitch but in the end, we were comfortably the better side, got minutes into key players and never looked in any danger of not going through. I think in years gone by we might have struggled in a game like that, but there is a sense of calmness and everyone fully trusting both the way we play and the abilities of the players on the pitch to get the job done. It continues to be a breath of fresh air. So was playing our strongest team in a game like this – I said in here before the game Howe is desperate to win a cup and that was some statement. It sets us up for a home quarter final against Leicester, who just so happen to be today’s opponents.
It can be difficult to second guess Howe and his team selections at times (certainly Tuesday was!) but I can see the same side lining up on Tuesday. Howe didn’t give us a return date for Isak, but the rest of the squad seem to have come out of that game with no issues and trained well. That game will have done a few of the returning lads some good and we’re hopefully ready to pick up where we left off.
Our opponents will be looking to do the same after a midweek win of their own and their current form outlines what a tough test this could prove for us. After a rather strange start to the season (which nearly proved to be Rogers’s undoing), Leicester seem to have remembered they’re a pretty decent side with some very good players, winning four out of their last six, conceding and losing only once which was to Man City.
They are one of the in-form sides in the league and have players like Tielemans, Barnes, and Maddison who, when firing, will be a handful for most sides. We’ve been constantly linked to Maddison and we’ll see if that speculation has any affect today – I think he’s a fantastic player and I hope so! An interesting one to watch may be down their left-hand side. Luke Thomas is a young left back who has come into the side recently for the injured James Justin and has impressed. Will he cope with Miggy and Trippier today though? We’ll see…
I’m gutted to not be heading to the game today, really like Leicester as an away day despite once travelling there to see us lose 5-0 on my birthday under Bruce. The wins under Rafa and the superb post-match curry offering in the city certainly makes up for it through and my very best wishes to all making the journey down today.
This is the point where I’d normally make a prediction and I’m finding it difficult, despite the fact we’re all probably in the head space that we’re going to win every week – and with good reason let’s be honest. Both teams are in form, scoring goals and conceding very little so this is anyone’s guess. Leicester are a good side and a win today will really set us up for a Christmas period where we can really establish ourselves in the top four. A score draw or narrow win for me today – edging towards the latter naturally. One player who is certainly due a goal for us is Sven Botman.
The bloke is fucking immense and a goal is the only thing missing from his game at the minute – I’d love that to change today.
Sean Orrick – @SeanOrrick