Newcastle Club Focus - Crucial clash for Magpies with in-form Wigan
Newcastle travel to Wigan Athletic this weekend with the hope of extending their winning run to seven games. The Magpies are in with a great chance of securing one of the Champions League slots although this is very much a must win game. Wigan have turned around their season in impressive style with recent wins over the likes of Arsenal and Manchester United. With the teams around Newcastle all playing winnable games this weekend it is crucial that Alan Pardew’s men come away from Lancashire with at least a point.
At the moment Newcastle’s starting XI pretty much picks itself with all players seemingly very content playing a 4-3-3 formation. With no new injury concerns to contend with, Pardew is likely to name the same side that beat Stoke 3-0. According to Sky Sports, French wingers Sylvain Marveaux and Gabriel Obertan have both returned to training but are unlikely to be available this weekend. The club’s only long-term injury concerns are defender Steven Taylor and youngster Sammy Ameobi.
Wigan had been on a run of two consecutive wins until they lost at Fulham last weekend. With Bolton winning in midweek, Wigan they are now only one point above the drop zone and the pressure is back on them. Roberto Martinez’s side have been playing some of the most attractive football in the league in recent weeks and have impressed with an adventurous 3-4-3 line-up.
With Chelsea making the final of the Champions League even finishing in fourth spot may not be enough for Newcastle to secure qualification. That would be cruel luck if it proved to be the case but there is nothing the club can do about it. At the moment plans for the summer are very much up in the air until it is decided what competition the Magpies will be playing in next season. Despite a disastrous trip to the USA last summer, there are still plans for another long haul pre-season tour in coming months. There is even a chance that an early return to action would clash with St James’ Park’s hosting of the Olympic football tournament. That would be the case if Newcastle have to play a qualifier for the Europa League in early August (see The Northern Echo).
Newcastle have announced that they will unveil a statue of former manager Sir Bobby Robson before the final home game of the season. The Magpies’ end their home campaign with a match against Manchester City on the 6th May and it is already a sell-out. Newcastle last played Champions League football under the tutelage of Robson who twice led the club to top four finishes. Managing director Derek Llambias told Sky Sports: “We are delighted to be able to honour Sir Bobby Robson with this lasting tribute. He was a great man and ambassador for this football club and for the city.”
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