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MATCH PREVIEW – Wycombe Wanderers vs Sunderland AFC: Adams Park set for top four clash as Black Cats can move top with win

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Sunderland travel to Adams Park knowing a win would take them into top spot...

Sunderland face a tough away trip to fourth placed Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday afternoon and know that a win could see them start the new year by moving to the top of League One.

Johnson’s side demolished the Owls 5-0 last time out and will be looking to start 2022 in a similar fashion with a win over promotion rivals Wycombe.

Ross Stewart followed his impressive performance against Doncaster with a man-of-the-match showing at the Stadium of Light where he netted a hat-trick. The Black Cats are on a nine-game unbeaten league run and have scored eight goals in their previous two games whilst keeping clean sheets on both occasions – ending 2021 in great style.

These results show the free-scoring nature of the side who struggled to find their feet at the start of the season. However, Johnson has moved to a more front-foot, direct and attacking approach in which key attacking players such as Stewart and Alex Pritchard are thriving.

Sunderland are one of the most in-form sides in English football and know a win could see them leapfrog Rotherham who sit a point ahead in first. The Millers face a difficult battle with Championship side QPR in the FA Cup on Saturday and could drop to second if the Wearisders claim all three points against The Chairboys.

The Black Cats travel south to Buckinghamshire, where they face a side they beat 3-1 when the teams met in the North-East last August, with Stewart striking twice on that occasion. Against a rising tide of illness and injuries in the camp, Sunderland would gladly take a repeat result on Saturday.

The team from Wearside have a kind run of away games ahead and will be keen to get off to the perfect start in the early game tomorrow, 12:30pm kick-off.

Before visiting title rivals Wigan at the end of February, home games against Portsmouth and MK Dons will likely provide the sternest tests. Their superb form at the Stadium of Light means Johnson can be confident of consolidating his side’s position in the coming weeks. Sunderland push for promotion to the Championship after three long years in the third tier.

Following a blip in November, when they lost four of their first five fixtures, the Chairboys have since climbed up the standings and are in contention for an immediate return to the Championship after their demotion last year.

Winning games against their key rivals such as Sunderland, though, could prove the difference between success and failure in their quest for promotion straight back to the second tier. A win on Saturday could take them up to third and within a point of their opponents, and make it back-to-back wins in League One.

FORM

W W D L W W 

W D W D L W

  • Wycombe have only lost two of their last 13 league games at Adams Park (W10 D1), while only failing to score in one of the 13 fixtures in this run (0-1 v Portsmouth in November 2021).
  • After losing three consecutive games in League One between October and November, Sunderland are now looking to go 10 consecutive league games without defeat (currently W6 D3).
  • Sunderland have won each of their last two Football League games against Wycombe, but have never beaten the Chairboys on the road in the Football League, losing on their last visit there in October 2019 (1-0).

TEAM NEWS

A number of players have been ruled out with the virus, as on-loan defender Frederik Alves joined Aiden O’Brien, Ellis Taylor, and injury absentees Luke O’Nien and Jordan Willis on the sidelines this week.

Lee Johnson, then, will be nervously waiting for some to test negative so that they can return to first-team action by Saturday, as his squad was already depleted due to injuries and could drop below the 14-man minimum required.

Carl Winchester – who has missed the last two games with a calf problem – is hopeful that he will be fit to feature if needed, but Everton loanee Nathan Broadhead is out with a hamstring injury until spring, so in-form Ross Stewart continues to lead the line up front.

Lee Johnson may throw new signing Trai Hume straight into the starting XI when Sunderland face Wycombe and the 19-year-old could potentially replace Dajaku, who is playing out of position at full-back.

Gareth Ainsworth, who is back in the camp after missing two games through COVID isolation, will be hoping that his side can replicate their recent 1-0 success away at Charlton in order to keep up the pressure at the top of a hotly contested League One.

Sullay Kaikai is unavailable, having left for Cameroon, where he will represent Sierra Leone at the Africa Cup of Nations. Ainsworth can call upon Jack Grimmer, who made a return to the team at Charlton and should play on Saturday, while Ryan Tafazolli remains a doubt.

Young defender Chris Forino-Joseph will be a starter once again for the Chairboys’ as he has in last two matches and has showed impressive form since his introduction into the starting eleven.

POTENTIAL LINE-UPS

SAFC:                                                                                                  WWFC:

 

Pre-match thoughts? Score predictions? Will Johnson’s side have enough to go top?

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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