Newcastle v Portsmouth is possibly the biggest match on this weekend’s schedule. Not being played until Monday evening both teams will know the layout of the table before taking to the field at St James’s Park.
Interim manager, Alan Shearer, has already expressed his desire to see the team win all of their remaining home games and regardless of the weekend’s results his mission remains the same. They must win not only on Monday night but against Fulham and Sunderland in their last remaining home games of this campaign.
For Portsmouth, their survival requirements will be a lot clearer come Monday. If those around them fail to pick up points then a draw in Newcastle may secure their Premiership pedigree for another season, a win and Paul Hart may very well be looking to next year, full of hope that he is still in charge at Fratton Park.
Shearer has insisted that he will keep faith with striker Michael Owen. The England international who used to play along side his manager in the national team has been struggling to score lately, however it is likely he will be handed his 250th Premier League start. Shola Ameobi is also in line for a milestone he will claim his 150th start for the Magpies if selected from the off. Having been shown more red cards than anyone else the Geordie faithful will be hoping that Shearer can keep all 11 men on the pitch as Newcastle go in search of their first win under their new boss.
Pompey go into the game having lost only two of their last nine games and will be hoping to bounce back from the defeat suffered at the hands of Man United in midweek. Paul Hart will have been relieved to see his team pull away from the trapdoor but they are not safe yet and he knows it. David James and Sylvain Distin are set to continue their record of playing in every minute of every league game this season and James will be making his 545th appearance in England’s top flight. Injured striker Nico Krancjar is unlikely to be fit but top goal scorer Peter Crouch should shake off a knock picked up during the defeat at Old Trafford.
Victory for Portsmouth would all but secure their future in the Premiership whereas defeat for Newcastle would all but end theirs. Either way it will be a nail biting and nervy match that may be settled by just the odd goal.
If Pompey come away with the points, Shearer really will have to prove that he is the messiah and perform a miracle to save his beloved Newcastle from dropping out of the top league of the English game for the first time in 16 years. This could prove to be the most important game of his career and he isn’t even playing.