Newcastle Club Focus - Champions League dream goes to final day
Newcastle will be looking to end a memorable 2011/12 campaign in style in their final game against Everton. The Magpies are still in with a chance of making the Champions League places although they will need other results to go for them. A trip to Goodison Park is not the easiest way to end the season with Everton currently on a good run of form.
For Newcastle it is a must win game with Totteham and Arsenal, immediately above them in the table, boasting slightly more points and a better goal difference. The two London clubs both face potentially tricky games that could see one of them slip up. Alan Pardew’s side now know that the lowest they can finish is fifth due to Chelsea’s midweek loss.
The Magpies have no fresh injury worries to contend with so they are almost at full strength. The manager is unlikely to make any changes to the starting XI with James Perch set to continue at right back. Opponents Everton are on a formidable run of form at the moment and are unbeaten in their last nine league games. Since the turn of the year they have become a rejuvenated team and will be desperate to finish the season above local rivals Liverpool. When the sides met earlier in the season Newcastle won 2-1 thanks to a memorable goal from utility player Ryan Taylor.
According to reports in the north east Newcastle will make a last effort to keep full-back Danny Simpson at the club. The defender’s contract expires at the end of next season and he has so far resisted previous contract offers. Simpson will play no further part this season with an ankle problem ruling him out of the past few games. It is believed the club will make one last take-it-or-leave it offer to extend his current deal.
Newcastle have shown in the past that they will look to sell on players rather than allow them to leave for nothing when their contract expires. The cases of Jose Enrique and Kevin Nolan from earlier this season are both good examples. Although Simpson tends to polarise opinions among the Geordie faithful he has been an almost ever present over the last three seasons. There would be plenty of interest from other Premier League clubs if he became available with Chelsea rumoured to be interested according to one daily newspaper.
With the season set to reach its conclusion on Sunday afternoon attention is already turning to the European Championships. Three players are already in contention for making the tournament with Tim Krul in the Netherlands preliminary squad while Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa have both been called up for France. Ben Arfa’s is the most eye-catching call-up as the flamboyant midfielder last featured for Les Bleus in 2010. He told L'Equipe: "I feel great satisfaction to have reached that priority objective, and I want to express my great gratitude to all people who supported me.”
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