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MATCH PREVIEW – Sunderland AFC vs Morecambe: The Black Cats could go top with victory over The Shrimps

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Credit: @sunderlandafcofficial instagram - The Black Cats could go top if results go their way in midweek...

Sunderland face Morecambe on Tuesday evening knowing that a win could see them return to the top of League One and extend their unbeaten league fun to five games.

The game features two sides at opposite ends of the League One table, with promotion-chasing Sunderland hosting relegation-threatened Morecambe.

Johnson’s side head into the game after their disappointing 1-1 draw with Oxford United at the Stadium of Light and will be hoping to make claim the spoils to make it five league games unbeaten.

Morecambe sit just above the relegation zone in 20th but arrive at the fixture in good spirits after their FA Cup second round victory over Buxton. However, the Shrimps were demolished 4-0 at home last time out in the league by 6th placed MK Dons.

The Black Cats have drawn two of their last four games and will be hoping for three points come 19:45pm…

Home draws have been their achilles heel throughout the last couple of seasons and there can be no excuses on Tuesday night given the difference in quality between the two sides.

Manager Johnson will be expecting his side to have quick start like on Saturday and stamp their authority on the clash in the early stages at the Stadium of Light.

Sunderland find themselves comfortably in the play-off positions in 5th and are just two points off table toppers Rotherham, with a game in hand on some of their closest rivals. A position of real strength heading into the manic Christmas period despite some fans booing at the last home fixture.

Leon Dajaku took the lead for his side in the opening stages on Saturday afternoon but after Oxford equalised through Matty Taylor just nine minutes before the break as the Black Cats were unable to find a winner.

Credit: @sunderlandafcofficial – Dajaku celebrates with teammates after taking an early lead

The second half performance will have pleased Johnson as Sunderland pushed for victory but the home side couldn’t find the cutting edge.

Sunderland are strong favourites heading into Tuesday’s fixture with relegation candidates Morecambe and can ill afford another frustrating result at the Stadium of Light if they want to maintain their momentum at the top.

Whilst the signs were again positive, the quality of service needs swift improvement for the Black Cats if they are to gain promotion back to the Championship at the third time of asking.

There were numerous occasions where players took one touch too many and failed to take a touch when in space as Sunderland’s performance was again plagued with poor decisions in attacking areas.

Ross Stewart will be hoping to find some form and notch for the first time since the 5-1 thrashing from Rotherham. Midfielder Alex Pritchard has looked most likely to provide game changing moments in the last couple of games and will be keen to put in another good performance for the home crowd.

Although many will have expected the Shrimps to already be cut adrift at the bottom of the table, Steve Robinson’s side head to the North-East just outside of the relegation places for now.

Morecambe have the second worst defensive record in League One and despite their admirable attacking style which sees them the 10th highest scorers, they will need to tighten up at the back if they are to get anything out of the game on Wearside.

The Shrimps have won just one of their previous nine league games but do head into the clash having progressed to the third round of the FA Cup thanks to a 1-0 win over Northern Premier League side Buxton – courtesy of Cole Stockton’s 17th goal of the season.

FORM

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  • The last time the teams played back in November 2018, the match ended with Sunderland coming out 1-0 away winners in the League Cup.
  • This will be the first Football League meeting between Sunderland and Morecambe. The Black Cats have lost just one of their last 15 Football League games against newly promoted sides (W11 D3) – a 2-1 defeat to Plymouth Argyle in January.
  • Sunderland have only lost one of their last 10 home league games (W7 D2) – only Oxford United (24) have earned more home points in League One this season.

TEAM NEWS

Sunderland’s injury list grew even further prior to their draw with Oxford at the weekend, with Frederik Alves and Will Harris missing out.

The duo are unavailable for the next couple of weeks, while Ellis Taylor is also absent due to illness.

Aiden McGeady, Luke O’Nien, Dennis Cirkin, Denver Hume and Corry Evans are included on the long list of injuries for Johnson, meaning a number of youngsters are expected to be involved in the match-day squad again. At the weekend the Black Cats had just two ‘senior’ names on the bench with the rest made up of inexperienced U23’s.

The growing list means that Sunderland will be looking to add to the squad in January but with six games to go until the transfer window opens, the manager needs to find an eleven who can maintain the momentum heading into the festive period.

Johnson’s options to make changes to his starting line-up for the visit of Morecambe remain minimal due to these injury issues as he only made two subs against Oxford on Saturday. Therefore it could be expected that we see a very similar line-up from the weekend…

Meanwhile for Morecambe, Jonathan Obika is close to making his debut for the club but his lack of match fitness means he is likely to be left out once again.

Aaron Wildig and Josh McPake are close to returned from injury following their involvement in a reserves fixture last week and their fitness is being monitored.

The Weekend’s match-winner Stockton came through unscathed after putting in another impressive performance against Buxton and the star man will lead the line once more.

Kyle Letheren returned between the posts on Saturday, and is expected to start in goal at the Stadium of Light.

PREDICTED LINE-UPS

Expected Morecambe team to face Sunderland

Expected SAFC team to play Morecambe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pre-match thoughts? Score predictions?

Are you frustrated after the 1-1 draw with Oxford? Can Sunderland go top during the Christmas period? Will Johnson’s side gain promotion?

Join in the conversation and have your say…

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Saudi Arabia wants its investors to own Manchester United

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North East Updates - Breaking News

Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.

 

Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.

 

It follows the Manchester United board announcing that they are open to a sale of the club.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisalstated he would be keen on Ronaldo signing for a Saudi Pro League after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent following a controversial interview and exit to Manchester United earlier this week..

 

“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league?” “He’s a role model to a lot of young players – him and Messi.”

 

Sky news are reporting – It is the availability of United – after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale – and Ronaldo that is interesting Prince Abdulaziz.

 

What are your thoughts on this – join the conversation on our Facebook page.

 

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Which Newcastle Players Are Going To The World Cup?

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Newcastle

The FIFA World Cup in Qatar gets underway next week and here are all the Newcastle players involved in the tournament

Callum Wilson (England)

Newcastle striker Callum Wilson is a player that has consistently shown the quality to earn a spot in an England squad at a major tournament but has sadly had his chances diminished by injuries in the past.

However, Wilson is currently injury free and is on the plane to Qatar! The Coventry City academy graduate averages a goal every 130 minutes in the Premier League this season, which is the second-best return of all English players behind Harry Kane.

The 30-year-old may have to bide his time for an opportunity due to England captain Harry Kane being the first-choice striker. That said, Wilson gives Gareth Southgate a great alternative should England find themselves chasing a game.

Kieran Trippier (England)

Gareth Southgate has always been very fond of Kieran Trippier’s abilities and what he brings to a team. For example, in Euro 2020 Southgate opted to play Trippier at left-back ahead of a more natural option in Ben Chilwell due to the 32-year-old’s experience and leadership qualities.

Trippier brings bags of experience at major tournaments after reaching the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020.

With injuries at right-back to the likes of Reece James and uncertainty around the fitness of Kyle Walker, Trippier could start at right wing-back in England’s World Cup opener against Iran.

Nick Pope (England)

The last player to complete The Magpies’ England trio is Nick Pope. Toon’s No.1 has been outstanding since arriving from Burnley in the Summer and has earnt his place in England’s World Cup squad.

Pope has the joint most clean sheets in the Premier League this season (6) alongside Manchester City goalkeeper, Ederson and fellow England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

It remains to be seen if Gareth Southgate picks Pope to be his first-choice goalkeeper in Qatar ahead of Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale. Pope started both of England’s last games in the Nations League back in September.

Bruno Guimarães (Brazil)

Moving to South America and the favourites to win the competition, Brazil. Bruno Guimarães has been one of Newcastle’s stand-out players this season and has deservedly earned himself a spot in Brazil’s very competitive World Cup Squad.

Guimarães has statistically been the best midfielder in the Premier League so far this season and will be hoping his performances have done enough to earn him a start against Serbia in Brazil’s opening fixture.

That said, Brazil manager Adenor Leonardo Bacchi has predominantly played with a midfield two of Manchester United duo, Casemiro and Fred at the base of the Brazilian midfield.

Fabian Schär (Switzerland)

The Magpies’ centre-back has been in great form alongside Sven Botman at the heart of Newcastle’s defence this season and will be hoping to continue his form in Qatar.

Schär has some tough competition in his position in the form of Manchester City centre-back Manuel Akanji and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi.

Switzerland find themselves in the same group as tournament favourites Brazil, which will see Schär reunited with Toon teammate Bruno Guimarães in Gameweek 2.

Who didn’t make the squad?

The most surprising player to not make their country’s squad is Sven Botman. The former Lille centre-back has been a major part of why Newcastle has the Premier League’s best defence so far this campaign.

Louis van Gaal has a great pool of centre-backs available to him and opted for the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Ake over Botman.

Another Toon player with World Cup disappointment is Joelinton, who has failed to follow Bruno Guimarães on the plane to Qatar.

Joelinton has been a revelation under Eddie Howe following his remarkable transformation from a striker to a box-to-box midfielder. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Joelinton this year.

Have Your Say

Who do you think will win the World Cup?

Which Newcastle player will be the best performer?

Let us know on our Facebook page!

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What We Learnt (Spurs 1-2 Newcastle)

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deadline day

Newcastle United were victorious at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium yesterday, winning 2-1 and now sit fourth in the Premier League. This is the first time they’ve been there at this stage of the season in 10 years.

 

Goals from Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron were enough to scare away any chances of a second-half Spurs comeback. That’s six goals for Miggy in what is now his best-ever season for goals in black and white.

 

With 21 points, just five behind Manchester City and seven behind current league leaders Arsenal, the Toon are looking better than ever, but what did the victory yesterday tell us?

 

Toon are charging for Europe

 

If you didn’t believe it at the start of the season you should now. Eddie Howe has transformed Newcastle into a team with a winning mentality with a real sense of togetherness in a squad who are willing to battle for one another, week in and week out.

 

Very few teams will travel to London this season and manage to come away with a point, never mind three when playing Spurs. Not only this game, however, but Man City (3-3), Liverpool (2-1) and Brentford (5-1) have also shown that Howe and his side mean business this season and are willing to go toe to toe with some of the very best teams, coaches and players in the world. 

 

In his first signing interview, Sven Botman said, “Newcastle wants to reach the top and the top is in the league and, at the end, maybe in Europe.” Maybe he didn’t specifically mean this season but now he and the rest of his teammates should believe that they have a real chance of playing European football next season.

 

Almiron transformation shouldn’t go unnoticed

 

Almiron made 30 appearances last season in the league and finished with just one goal and no assists. Now, after just 12 games and six goals, the Paraguayan is already on course to smash his previous goal-scoring records which have seen him accumulate nine Premier League goals over the course of four seasons. 

 

Loved by the fans and with the full support of his teammates, it can only get better for the Paraguayan at this point. His goal against Tottenham showed the dribbling, flair and finishing quality he withholds, something that Steve Bruce and Rafael Benitez could never get out of him.

 

Eddie Howe must be awarded credit for this development, as with the current budget the club has, he could’ve easily found a replacement in the summer. But, just like Joelinton, Miggy has cemented his spot in Newcastle’s starting eleven and is proving every week why he deserves to be there.

 

Wilson & Burn should be considered by Southgate 

 

On TalkSport recently, Neil Warnock warned Gareth Southgate saying his loyalty to players might be his downfall and said Dan Burn is “Mr Steady Eddie” referring to his versatility, being able to play left-back or centre-back.

 

Burn started 28 Premier League games last season and this season has 11 out of 12. His consistent dominating performances in Newcastle’s back line have put him into the conversation for a first-ever England call-up and I don’t think many would disagree. With John Stoned injured, Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings not in good form and not getting regular game time, Gareth Southgate’s defensive decisions should now be a lot more challenging.

 

Callum Wilson has proved yet again his abilities as a top Premier League striker. His goal against Spurs not only put him in the headlines over England captain Harry Kane but also made it four in eight for the English man this season who has averaged 2.8 shots per game with an average scoring frequency of 162 minutes. 

 

With no clear-cut backup striker to Kane, is Wilson ahead of Ivan Toney and Tammy Abraham in the race to be England’s number two striker?

 

So, what do you think? Do Newcastle have a serious chance at European football next season, can Almiron stay at his best and should Wilson and Burn be considered for a World Cup call-up?

 

Join the conversation on our Facebook page …

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