When Newcastle United beat Norwich 4-3 back in September, it was hat-trick scorer Dwight Gayle who took the majority of the plaudits yet The Magpies started slowly and were 3-1 down after 69 minutes after missing aerial chances fizzed into the box notably crosses by Paul Dummett that would have been meat and drink to Aleksandar Mitrovic yet were wasted by Gayle and Matt Ritchie.
Only when the game looked lost & Rafa Benitez threw on his big no. 45 in the 71st minute as substitute for Mo Diame did Newcastle rally and come alive before finally forcing victory deep into injury time. If anything, it was the combination of Mitrovic and Gayle up front together than sealed victory in the last 25 minutes & rocked Norwich.
Norwich boss Alex Neil must be sick of trips to St. James’ Park after seeing his Canaries side smashed 6-2 against Steve McClaren’s Magpies in late 2015 only to be followed by an even more galling defeat after holding a two-goal lead this season though he remained upbeat about his side’s chances against the title leaders tomorrow:
“Without doubt we will be a match for them. We beat them the last time they came here in the Premier League. We were 3-1 up at their place and deservedly so.
“We know it is going to be tough because they are a right good side, but so are we and it is who plays well on the day.”
As he mentioned above, there was a measure of revenge for the 6-2 slaughter for Neil, whose Yellow and Greens beat Newcastle 3-2 in early April with the help of referee Mike Dean, who missed a late Norwich handball in the lead-up to the winning goal athough he did award a rare United penalty that Mitrovic converted.
The loss of star Robbie Brady, who joined Burnley in the January transfer window & tormented Newcastle at St. James’ Park winning a penalty from Yoan Gouffran will affect Norwich against the best team in The Championship.
Can Mitrovic and Gayle Be Like Alan Shearer and Les Ferdinand for Newcastle?
In the mid-1990s, Newcastle fans were blessed to be supporting a team with perhaps the best strike partnership ever seen in English football scoring 49 goals between them in the 1996-7 season that proved their only one together in the famous black and white shirt.
As well as famously bagging a goal each in the following thrashing of Sir Alex Ferguson’s Man United side, they notched two each when The Magpies obliterated Spurs 7-1 in Keegan’s penultimate match as Newcastle manager and were both on the same scoresheet a total of 10 times that year.
While Kevin Keegan was delighted to partner Shearer and Ferdinand up front together and even throw in Tino Asprilla as a third striker, Rafa Benitez is more cautious and his preferred formation contains only one man up front.
Dwight Gayle has carried the striking load for much of the season leading the line superbly notching 20 goals in the process yet as he is just coming back from injury, starting the in-form Mitrovic might be advantageous to The Magpies at Carrow Road before bringing Gayle on to finish the job if necessary.
Mitrovic has 6 goals to his name after being in and out the side yet has surely earned a run in the starting XI after another winner at Molineux on Saturday night. With Mitrovic in the side, Newcastle have recorded both their biggest home win and away wins – 6-0 against Preston at St. James’ Park in The League Cup and 6-0 at QPR in The EFL Championship – and may require the same Mitro’s on fire-power tomorrow.
If Gayle starts or play any part tomorrow, Benitez would be wise to remember the duo’s combined impact vs Norwich at home when two Mitrovic knock-downs from Shelvey passes were eventually converted for the win.
Referees Must Protect Mitrovic
Rafa Benitez called for more protection for Jonjo Shelvey and Mitrovic from match officials believing two of his top players are being targeted by the opposition and actively wound up in an attempt to get them sent off. Against Derby for example, the Serbian front man was being pushed from behind almost every time the ball was there to be won in the air without any recourse or redress from the referee and it was a similar story on Saturday night.
At Molineux against Wolves, Mitrovic was again targeted by away fans, opposition players and match officials alike yet emerged defiant with the match-winning goal. Last season as well, Mitrovic’s reputation preceded him and he won very little favour despite the total unfair attention and treatment by opposition players.
Aleksandar Mitrovic remains a Champions League goalcorer with a 40% goal-scoring record to his name, the same ratio at the highest level of European club competition as United great Alan Shearer, who scored 8 goals in 20 games for The Magpies. As this video shows Mitrovic as the real deal against Borussia Dortmund or perhaps he just likes playing against teams in yellow – either way his should be the first name on the team-sheet tomorrow night and the last to be taken off it if Newcastle want to win.
Juventus Fans Arrested After Clash with Police
Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League quarter-final clash between Juventus and Ajax has already been marred by violence and controversy, before the teams even took to the pitch.
According to Ansa, citing a report from De Telegraaf, dozens of fans were reportedly arrested in Amsterdam in the hours leading up to the game.
Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini (h/t Football Italia) took to Facebook live video to state that “around 120” fans had been arrested.
Per the report from De Telegraaf, fans near the Johan Cruyff Arena were “in possession of knives, clubs, pepper spray and flares.” Also, dozens of Ajax supporters were reported to have clashed with riot police in separate incidents outside the stadium and were eventually dispersed with the use of tear gas and water cannons.
The Mirror posted the following images on their Twitter page:
Man City forward Raheem Sterling Looking to Combat Racism on the Pitch
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling, who spoke out last month after being subjected to taunts during England’s game in Montenegro, is looking to take his fight against racism to the pitch, saying he would rather stay on the field than let racism force him to walk off of the pitch during a match.
Sterling’s manager Pep Guardiola, stated that he would support players walking off in protest if it happened again, in a strong statement that racism is simply not acceptable.
“I think everyone are entitled to their own opinions. My mum has taught me to be comfortable in my own skin and I am,” Sterling said, according to the Manchester Evening News.
“I wouldn’t personally agree with [walking off], to win the game would hurt them even more they’re only trying to get you down. If you walk off they win, to score or win would be better.
“Everyone’s different. Everyone has their own opinion, how they deal with things emotionally and you have to support everyone.”
Sterling opened up about the racism he has faced in his life, discussing when he first expereinced racism when he moved from North London up to the north-west back in 2010.
“I don’t think trying to make a difference or making a difference, it’s about speaking what you experience. Some people might shy away from it, if more players speak up that might be better.
“It’s offensive but growing up my mum always told me I’m a wonderful black child and I know this. When I hear it, it’s nothing new. I’m happy with it. I’m confident, I’m black and I’m proud. Some people can’t take it but my mum has always told me to love who I am.
“The first time I experienced racism is when I went up north to Liverpool – in London in schools and on a day-to-day basis you’re surrounded by a diverse community. Only a few occasions growing up in the academy in Liverpool, and then mainly in the last couple of years of being a professional.”
Birmingham City Fan Jailed for 14 Days for Punching Aston Villa Player
27-year old Paul Mitchel, a Birmingham City fan has been jailed for 14 days after he plead guilt to assaulting Aston Villa midfielder Jack Graelish during the derby on Sunday.
Mitchell rushed the pitch and took a swing at Graelish when the player’s back was turned at Birmingham City’s St. Andrew’s stadium during the Championship match on Sunday.
Mitchell admitted to invading the pitch and has been officially banned from attending any football match in the U.K. for up to 10 years, and was also ordered to pay £350 in total fines.
Graelish made a statement in which he described how he was “shocked and scared” by the attack.
“I cannot help but feel how lucky I was in this incident,” he said (h/t ESPN). “It could have been so much worse had the supporter had some sort of weapon.”
“He cannot explain what came over himself yesterday morning,” Mitchell’s lawyer, Vaughn Whistance, said on Monday.
“His initial foolish intention was to go onto the pitch to whip up the crowd. He is certainly remorseful today. He is a man with a partner, they have a 2-year-old together and they’re expecting their second child.”
“This weekend a line has been crossed in terms of fan behaviour,” said a spokesperson for the FA.
“On Sunday we saw two separate incidents, at Birmingham City and Arsenal, of individuals entering the field of play and assaulting players.
“Not only is it an offence to enter the pitch, which could result in a club ban and criminal charges for the individual, but it also puts the safety of the players at risk.
“This is entirely unacceptable and we strongly condemn both incidents.
“We will be working with the clubs, the leagues and the police to discuss what collectively needs to be done to protect players and officials on the pitch.
“In addition, we have written to both Birmingham City and Arsenal to seek their observations to examine the security measures they had in place.”
Birmingham City apologized to Grealish and Aston Villa and banned Mitchell for life.
“Birmingham City Football Club would like to apologise to Jack Grealish and Aston Villa Football Club for an incident in Sunday afternoon’s derby match,” a club statement said.
“We deplore the behaviour of the individual who committed this act and rest assured he will be banned from St. Andrew’s for life. The club will also support any further punishment this individual may face in the eyes of the law.
“The club will be working with the relevant authorities to investigate all the circumstances and we will be reviewing our stadium safety procedures.
“What happened has no place in football or society. Jack is a Birmingham lad and regardless of club allegiance should not have been subjected to this — there are no excuses.
“Again, we apologise to Jack and all at Aston Villa Football Club.”
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