Newcastle United host Norwich City on Wednesday night looking to return to winning ways after a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa following a match they dominated for long periods yet succumbed to a late equaliser.
A game of two halves at Villa Park on Saturday night meant Newcastle were regretting missed chances after Dwight Gayle and Mo Diame both wasted gilt-edged opportunities to turn a one goal lead into 2-0 and ultimately one point for the draw into three after a Tommy Elphick own goal gave The Magpies a deserved first-half lead.
Club Captain Jamaal Lascelles Tweeted after the match:
“That feels like a loss to me, we need to learn how to manage the game better and see teams off. Fight back Wednesday “
For an hour or so, Rafa Benitez’s Magpies bossed the encounter so much that they looked like the home team yet failure to kill the game off came back to haunt the away side when Roberto Di Matteo’s switched to a direct ball game utilising the height of 6ft 3in and 6ft 4in substitutes Aaron Tshibola and Rudy Gestede.
This is how The Magpies can change up to beat visiting League leaders Norwich City on Wednesday night, a team they beat 6-2 in The Premier League last season at St. James’ Park:
- The Gouff Is On Fire – Play Man of the Moment Yoan Forward
Yoan Gouffran has been the early revelation of Newcastle’s season having recovered the attacking instincts he was first bought from Bordeaux for and to play him further forward seems the natural next step.
Whether buzzing behind Aleksandar Mitrovic or Daryl Murphy, who won everything in the air against Wolves on Tuesday night in the EFL Cup, as a no. 10 or even in the lone strike role Rafa has favoured Gayle in so far, push him up front.
Having drilled in an excellent right-footed volley from a Jonjo Shelvey corner away to Derby, he followed it up with a similarly fierce and technically-superb volleyed strike with his left against Wolves.
The Gouff is on fire – let him burn Norwich’s defence down.
2. Grant Hanley Must Play More and Tighten Newcastle Up At The Back
Scottish international Grant Hanley is Newcastle’s best defensive header of a ball so when Aston Villa brought on Rudy Gestede, all 6ft 4in of him and an aerial menace, a like-for-like defensive substitute should have been brought on to combat the different threat.
Villa played for corners and free-kicks realising Newcastle were vulnerable in the air and got their reward when Aaron Tshibola, another tall substitute at 6ft 3in made the Villains extra height count late in the game and The Magpies nearly conceded a second.
Rotation dictates that its horses for courses and with Cameron Jerome up front next for Norwich at St. James’ Park fed by set-piece specialist Robbie Brady from left-wing, Newcastle need to protect themselves in the air again.
A taller, stronger spine of Hanley, Cheick Tiote and Aleksandar Mitrovic will give the Magpies an edge.
3. Karl Darlow Has To Replace Matt Sels
Fair play to Rafa Benitez for showing faith and loyalty to the keeper he brought in from Belgium for a reported £6.5M in the summer yet it is harming The Magpies now as Sels is vulnerable in the air and flaps at the ball.
This is not to justify any personal abuse the player has received on social media in any way, shape or form yet because of that it might be doubly wise to take him out of the firing line until he recovers his composure.
Karl Darlow, a Championship veteran of 100+ games, looks assured between the posts in The Cup where Sels looks shaky and commands his box far better in the air.
Alongside big mate Jamaal Lascelles, the pair’s understanding can provide a defensive platform for Newcastle.
Newcastle also need to put a man on each post at corners, something they found out to their cost yesterday.
4. Mo Diame Needs A Rest or Positional Shift
The scorer of Hull City’s winning goal in The Play-Off Final in May scored 10 goals for The Tigers as he guided them to promotion last year but is yet to notch in a black and white shirt.
Whether he is underwhelmed at the prospect of another arduous Championship campaign when he could be playing Premier League football or another reason, he is yet to find his true form and goal-scoring boots.
When he was at West Ham, he would often feature on the right-wing under Sam Allardyce, where he can cut inside, cause havoc and score.
With DeAndre Yedline bombing down the wing from right-back, Matt Ritchie might be best employed switched onto the left-wing offering The Magpies a different threat with Yoan Gouffran pushed forward.
5. Cheick Tiote Can Raise Newcastle’s Intensity and Provide The Winning Spirit
Newcastle have the best squad in The Championship yet aren’t producing the results their talent should – yet. Rafa Benitez has repeatedly said Newcastle can get better even after the 6-0 win against QPR made it six wins in a row.
“We can still improve. The team was playing well, everybody was pushing and working hard, but you always make some mistakes…
“We now have to show we can concentrate in every game. It doesn’t matter if we score six goals, we get three points in the end. Now have to concentrate on the next game and not lose that concentration.”
Tough-tackling Tiote can ward off complacency and take Newcastle’s game to the next level against the better teams as he strikes fear into the hearts of the opposition & fully-fit, is a man who knows how to grind out wins.
Especially if tigerish Geordie Jack Colback injured, with Cheick involved, Newcastle can capture the do-or-die instinct they need to become Championship Champions starting on Wednesday night.
25th Annual Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night, A Charity Knockout Event
The stars came out last night to give, show support, perform, and to continue to raise money and awareness in hopes of one day find a cure to knockout Parkinson’s disease.
Going back to year number 1, The first ever event was held at the Ritz-Carlton operated on a much smaller scale than today, which is now held at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.
At the very first Celebrity Fight Night With the help of Phoenix Suns Charles Barkley, Dan Majerle, and the valley of the sun’s very own Louie Espinoza, Tony Baltazar, and boxing champion Michael Carbajal who by the way fought in the ring with over sized boxing gloves.
The ”Puttin on the Fists at The Ritz” first Celebrity Fight Night scored a knockout win and is STILL punching on through today for the Greatest Of All Time, The late great Muhammad Ali.
Last night I was honored to attend and speak to a few of the stars, one was NFL legendary kicker Nick Lowery, Mr. Lowery now spends most of his time at charitable endeavors and advocating for alternative medicine research and is also a spokesman for Kannalife, Inc to raise awareness for CTE and players safety in hopes of one day having intercellular “helmets,” like Kannalife’s CBD and KLS-13019, is so important to potentially treat the brain.
I asked Lowery what is his favorite Ali memory, and Lowery’s response: ” Taking Ali to the NBA All-Star game one year as we sat behind Jay-Z and Beyonce and watching Beyonce wave to Ali, Beyonce spoke to us, she is the sweetest person. Also taking Ali to the locker rooms and watching Kobe Bryant, Lebron James, and all the other all stars turn into children at the sight of seeing their hero the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali walk through the doors, what an experience that was.”
In asking the very same question to R&B Singer Brian McKnight, ”I have so many Ali memories but my favorite was watching Ali knockout George Foreman at home with my dad. The odds were against Ali and Ali being the great fighter that he was he beat the odds and stopped a much younger powerful puncher in Foreman. You know, I am still a big boxing fan today, I enjoy watching Tyson Fury out of the current heavyweights.”
And what did legendary former champion boxer, Micheal Carbajal have to say? ”It’s truly an honor to attend this great event, at the very first one proceeds went to my 9th street boxing gym and now 24 years later it’s still going strong, a great charity”. Mr. Carbajal went on to talk some boxing with me,
Carbajal- ” You see Spence/Garcia?”
Me- ” Yes, it was brutal, what did you think?”
Carbajal- ” Not good for Mikey Garcia at all, but he is still my favorite current boxer, and he beats everybody at 135 pounds if he can make the weight there. Mikey would knockout Lomachenko in 4 rounds at 135.”
Me- ”Wow, you really think that? Both are great technical boxers but I can’t see a 4 round fight between them, so you really think it would only take Mikey 4 rounds to stop Lomachenko?”
Carbajal- ” I KNOW so!”
Special honorees for the evening include fabled American music producer and 27-time Grammy Award-winner Quincy Jones, Arizona State University President Dr. Michael Crow and Dr. Abraham Lieberman, the medical director of the Movement Disorders Clinic at Barrow Neurological Institute and Renee Parsons of the Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation.
“For 25 years, we’ve treated Celebrity Fight Night audiences to the world’s greatest entertainers and this year will be no different as we welcome Barry Manilow,” said Jimmy Walker, Founder of Celebrity Fight Night. “With the help of our celebrity friends and incredibly generous donors, we are once again excited to raise millions of dollars and make a difference in the lives of those who need our support.”
About Celebrity Fight Night
Celebrity Fight Night has gifted more than $86 million over the past 24 years benefiting the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as several other worthy charities.
The black-tie event features a cocktail reception, silent auction, elegant dinner, and an exciting live auction including one-of-a-kind luxury items and experiences. Celebrity Fight Night Foundation is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1994 by Jimmy Walker and supports the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, as well as numerous other charities. For more information, visitwww.celebrityfightnight.org.
Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Dead at 23
Olympic track cyclist Kelly Catlin, who competed in the 2016 Rio Janeiro Games, was found dead in her California home this past Friday due to an apparent suicide, according to an announcement from her father, according to Reuters.
“There isn’t a minute that goes by that we don’t think of her and think of the wonderful life she could have lived,” her father, Mark Catlin said, according to VeloNews. “There isn’t a second in which we wouldn’t freely give our lives in exchange for hers. The hurt is unbelievable.”
Catlin, 23, took the silver medal in Rio and was part of the teams who took home the gold in 2016, 2017, and 2018 World Championships.
Catlin had reportedly struggled with mental health in the past and her sister, Christine Catlin, said that Catlin was “a really special person – kind, funny, empathetic, and talented at literally everything she did, per the Washington Post. She just felt like she couldn’t say no to everything that was asked of her and this was her only escape.”
Tom Brady And Pats Play Record 8th AFC Championship Game, Seek 6th Superbowl
It’s Championship Sunday and one of the NFL staples remain atop the league. The New England Patriots are appearing in their record 8th AFC title game in hopes of competing for a sixth title.
A season that most organizations would be happy with, was one of challenge for the Patriots. Usually a top tier team, they suffered bad losses to the Jaguars, Titans and Dolphins. However, in Patriot fashion along a weak AFC East, the Patriots finished 11-5, won a 10th straight conference title and secured a first round bye.
Kansas City will host New England in the AFC Championship game in what is a rematch from week six. That game featured an offensive clinic , As reported by CBS Boston, Brady went 24-35 passing for 340 yards and touchdown in that game; Mahomes went 23-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns. The AFC Championship could very well play out the same way.
The Chiefs will be a tough out, They won their first home playoff game in 25 years last week against the Colts and are riding one of the most prolific offenses in history behind quarterback whisperer Andy Reid and phenome Patrick Mahomes who is arguably the NFLs best young QB.
In what is a David and Goliath matchup, Brady seems to imply they are the underdog. As he told CBS’s Tracy Wolfson, “I know everyone thinks we suck and, you know, cant win games,”. Will the dynasty continue? Or will Reid and Mahomes hoist the Lombardi?
I’m leaning towards the game plan of Bill Belichick and veteran experience of Tom Brady in this one. I think a Patriot/Saints matchup is in order. Either way, it will undoubtedly be one for the ages.
Game Time: Sunday January 20th at 6:40ET/5:40CT on CBS.
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