Next up, Newcastle United come to a glorious half-filled Wembley for a Saturday lunchtime of fun and frolics. (We can dream. Both Mr Fun and Mrs Frolics were evicted from the Brutalist monstrosity that is our temporary home at the construction stage all current evidence suggests. It’s a poo-hole, when can we go home?)

You’re only as good as your last game they say, in which case, we’re in trouble as the Barcodes come to us on the back of Tuesday’s come from behind win over Moneybags Citeh. In that 2-1 victory, Newcastle scored with their only two shots on target, which is a neat trick. Man City had 76% possession, 12 shots, 8 corners and of course have spent more money which means they must have won by all that is Holy!

The jury appears to be out on whether the surprise three points were as a result of a cunning Benitez plan well executed, a bad day at the office for City or just ill-luck. Whatever it was, we don’t want none of that sort of thing recurring on Saturday.

It’s hard to anticipate playing Newcastle with anything approaching excitement or any expectation of a football feast indeed. Their whole philosophy is based on Ali’s Rope-A-Dope theory, it’s just a shame for them that it doesn’t work very often. Salomon Rondon is a lump up front, Shelvey and Ritche thugs in the middle and the rest of them triers.

I’m an idiot to write off a team that’s just beaten Pep’s City of course so I won’t do that, there must be some talent in there somewhere. Lascelles and Lejeune are more than capable on their day, Martin Dubravka is the new Tim Krul and I’ve always liked Perez. Erm. That’s it.

They have injury issues, the aforementioned Shelvey, Dummett and Diame are all facing late tests, Joselu, Ki, Darlow and Mutu are definitely out (I’ve just read).

We have Son back and what a difference he’s made already. He was the architect of our comeback on Wednesday and thank goodness for that. The sense of relief at the three points given the recent performances and results was well in excess of what it should have been. We really needed that win to help put the ship back on the rails. After a period of relentless bad news it was great to be able to stick something in the Good Vibes column.

Our side will depend on fitness and availability but whoever plays, we need to go at them from the off and see if we can get an early goal. Going behind at half-time and winning late is all very well, it’s not sustainable though in the long run.

A confident and by now close to match fit (surely!) Llorente will start alongside Son if he’s recovered with possibly Lucas and Eriksen firing bullets. Sissoko, Winks, Rose, Vertonghen, Alderweireld, Trippier and Hugo. Maybe.

The rewards are obvious, it’s a nice feeling to leapfrog Man City, even if it’s only for a short while. We can and should win well and we will do if we are as clinical as we can be.

Andre Marriner is the man in the middle so expect some randomness.


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