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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.

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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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Newcastle Ready To Make Offers For Attacking Duo

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Newcastle transfer duo

According to 90min Football, Newcastle are ready to make offers for Lyon playmaker Lucas Paquetá and Marseille forward Bamba Dieng.

Eddie Howe is keen to add attacking reinforcement to his Newcastle squad before the end of the summer transfer window. The Magpies have so far bolstered their defensive options with the arrivals of Matt Target, Sven Botman and goalkeeper Nick Pope.

Newcastle have struggled to sign attacking players so far in the window with clubs and agents demanding higher fees due to the financial wealth behind the new ownership at St James’ Park.

Brazilian midfielder Lucas Paquetá is a name that has been linked with a move to Newcastle since the arrival of former teammate Bruno Guimarães in January.

The 24-year-old is reportedly available for a cut price of £34,000,000 but also has interest from Premier League rivals Arsenal.

Paquetá would complete a trio of Brazilians in midfield at Newcastle, adding to Joelinton and Bruno Guimarães. Paquetá is a different type of player to the formally mentioned pair as he is usually deployed as an advanced midfielder which, should he arrive, would complement The Toon’s midfield nicely.

On Saturday’s opening Premier League fixture against Nottingham Forest, that position was occupied by Joe Willock, who received a 6.95 rating from, WhoScored while, Joelinton and Bruno Guimarães received ratings of 8.69 and 8.18 respectively.

This season is a big season for the former Arsenal man, as he has so far struggled to rekindle his form from the 2020/2021 loan spell with the club since his permanent move.

Jonjo Shelvey faces at least 12 weeks out after undergoing hamstring surgery, meaning Eddie Howe is particularly light of options in the middle of the park.

Elliot Anderson will be staying with the first team after previously expecting to be heading out on loan this campaign. However, his performances in pre-season have impressed The Magpies’ manager.

The academy graduate was an unused sub on Saturday, but I’d suspect he will be utilised when Newcastle are needing a creative spark from midfield late in the game, which was not required on the weekend.

It’s clear that Eddie Howe is hoping to add an advanced midfielder before the window shuts on August 31st, with multiple bids rejected for Leicester City playmaker James Maddison.

Newcastle may go in for a third time for the former Norwich City man, but The Magpies’ hierarchy will be well aware of the FFP restrictions that may see them move for a more affordable target, such as Paquetá.

Marseille forward Bamba Dieng is the other player that Newcastle are set to bid for, who is reportedly available for £12,500,000.

Dieng had a breakthrough season with Marseille last year, scoring 7 goals in 25 games in Ligue 1. The 22-year-old is predominantly a centre-forward but can also play left and right-wing, which would give Newcastle some versatility in the forward positions.

West Ham, Leeds and Celtic are also interested in the Senegalese international, who will be hoping to feature in the World Cup later this year.

Newcastle have been linked with several forwards this summer, including Benjamin Šeško, who has recently joined RB Leipzig.

Eddie Howe will want another forward this summer due to the injury record of Callum Wilson, who, when fit is Newcastle’s first-choice striker.

Wilson got off to a great start to the new Premier League campaign with a clever chip to beat Dean Henderson in the Forest goal and help The Magpies to a 2-0 opening day win.

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Eddie Howe opens up on Anderson’s “big role this season”, transfers wishes and more

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@NUFC via twitter

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe has told press that “we’re trying to bring an attacker in.” He also hinted that youngster Elliot Anderson will “have a big part to play this season” and previewed the opening fixture.

Eddie Howe spoke to NUFC TV in the lead up to the start of the new Premier League campaign.

Howe, who was appointed at Newcastle last November, spoke of settling into the area.

“It’s a massive difference having my family close to me. I’ve had a good summer in terms of getting to know the area better, spending more time here. I just feel ready to go and I feel Newcastle Manager now. It took a while to feel settled, not through anyone’s reaction.”

Although, Howe confessed he is yet to pick up any Geordie culture: “I’m so busy with my job and so intense in the role that i have very little time for getting into any local traditions. Hopefully that will change as time evolves.”

The former Bournemouth manager also addressed how the squad are progressing to implement his tactics and philosophy.

He emphasised the room for improvement, saying: “I think the players know what I want now. Knowing what you want and delivering it in the way that you want to is easier said than done. We’re at the highest level and we’re playing against very good teams who are also trying to implement their style on us.

“We’re always working to try and be perfect and we’ve got a long way to go before we get there. I do think we’re along the way now and the key thing is they understand what we want.”

He had praise for Miguel Almiron after an impressive pre-season. “He was a very important player for us last year. At the back end of the season he was terrific without getting the goals and the headlines his performances deserve.”

The winger scored six overall in pre-season, including a double against Benfica.

“Everyone knows Miggy is such a hard worker, such a team player. I’d love him to get some individual reward off the back of that with more goals.”

He also discussed the potential of Eliot Anderson, the young midfielder who impressed in pre-season: “he hasn’t looked out of place among established Premier League. He’s more than held his own. He’ll have a big part to play this season.”

On transfers, Howe was open: “we’re trying to bring an attacker in or someone who can play in forward positions.” After having missed out on a number of attacking targets, he seemed wary that “the transfer marker is so unpredictable.”

“I don’t think [the team] will look drastically different. We’re trying to bring in quality rather than numbers. We’ve got to be smart with what money we do have.”

Turning to Saturday’s fixture, Howe lauded Nottingham Forest. “I’ve been very impressed by Nottingham Forest. Last season the job Steve Cooper did was incredible.”

“After last year waiting so long for a win it would be great if we could make a really good start to this season.”

 

 

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Transfer Latest: Leicester Reject £50,000,000 Bid From Newcastle For Midfield Star

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Leicester's maddison
Image: @premierleague via Twitter

According to The Guardian, Leicester City have rejected Newcastle’s improved offer of £45,000,000 plus £5,000,000 in add-ons for midfielder James Maddison.

The opening bid from The Magpies was in the region of £40,000,000 for the Leicester City playmaker, which was swiftly rejected. It’s understood that The Foxes value Maddison at around the £60,000,000 mark.

Leicester manager Brendon Rodgers said that the opening bid from The Magpies “might just cover three-quarters of his left leg”. Rodgers later stressed that his side will not be “exploited” by other Premier League clubs given their current financial situation.

Newcastle’s hierarchy are currently hesitant in meeting Leicester City’s valuation for Maddison as they don’t want to overpay for players due to FFP restrictions. The new owners have already spent around the £150,000,000 mark in less than 12 months.

The Foxes are set to lose goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. He is close to joining French side Nice, with the deal expected to be completed in the coming days. Leicester are reportedly interested in signing Newcastle keeper Martin Dúbravka as Schmeichel’s replacement, meaning Dúbravka could potentially be used as a makeweight in the Maddison deal.

The former Norwich City man is third for chances created in the Premier League since August 2018 with 278, just behind the division’s top creators Kevin De Bryune and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Lucas Paquetá

It is clear that Eddie Howe is looking to add an attack-minded midfielder to his side with links to the likes of Lucas Paquetá since the start of the window.

Lyon midfielder Lucas Paquetá has been linked with a move to the North East since the arrival of Bruno Guimarães in January. Paquetá is a close friend to Guimarães as they both played together in midfield at Lyon. Guimarães has recently released a message on Instagram to his former teammate:

Leicester reject 50m for maddison

Image: @brunoguimaraes via Instagram

The message reads, “I miss you brother!!! I miss you every day I love you so much my friend @lucaspaqueta ❤️”

Lyon’s head of recruitment, Bruno Cheyrou, has not ruled out a sale for the Brazilian midfielder who is reportedly available for a fee in the region of £34,000,000 after previously being valued at almost double the price mentioned.

If the reports from the French media outlet Media Foot regarding the asking price are correct, Paquetá could provide The Toon with a cheaper alternative to Maddison which could be an appealing solution for the Newcastle hierarchy.

However, it’s believed that Arsenal are currently leading the race for the 24-year-old’s signature, but Paquetá could prefer a move to St James’ Park to be reunited with close friend Bruno Guimarães.

Maxwel Cornet

Burnley winger Maxwel Cornet is another name that has been recently linked with a move to the North East but face competition from Premier League rivals Everton, West Ham and new boys Nottingham Forest.

It has been revealed that Cornet has a £17,500,000 release clause in his current contract at The Clarets and is open to a move following their relegation to the Championship last season.

The 25-year-old is predominantly seen as a left-winger but can also play at left-back. Adding more quality to the forward positions is one of Eddie Howe’s priorities for the remainder of the window, as he is yet to sign a forward player.

Cornet was left out of Vincent Kompany’s squad for Burnley’s Championship opening fixture at Huddersfield Town on Friday night.

The Ivory Coast international could provide a more suitable option financially due to the £40,000,000 asking price for Leeds winger Jack Harrison, who has been previously linked with a move to The Toon.

Eddie Howe’s side have already seen a bid of £33,500,000 rejected by Leeds and are unwilling to pay over their valuation for the former Manchester City man.

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