A crucial three weeks - 12/12/2003
You take a look at the fixture list and see that during the rest of December weíve got Tottenham and Blackburn at home, and Charlton and Leicester away. They usually say that the holiday period is a crucial time of year, but due the fixtures we have Ė itís especially crucial. The season target has got to be fourth place and if thatís going to be achieved then we need two home wins and at least four points from our travels. Even with ten points in the bag, it might not be enough push in front of Liverpool. They face Southampton and Bolton at Anfield, with trips to City and a tough one at Stamford Bridge. Looking at this, I think that Newcastle probably face the easier of games Ė so itís important to come out with more points.
Liverpool have missed Michael Owen and with Harry Kewell out for another couple of games, theyíre only going to get stronger. Newcastle, on the other hand, have virtually a full strength squad to pick from Ė perhaps only Craig Bellamy is being missed. Thereís a definite lack of cover for Al, and perish the thought, if he were injured weíd really struggle for goals.
Looking around, Iím not being disrespectful to Charlton or Fulham, but they simply donít have the size and depth of squad that Newcastle and Liverpool have. You canít help but feel that theyíll hit a bad patch - which will make fourth place unreachable. If I was to look for a challenger to the two northern clubs, itíd be Charlton or Southampton. But I just canít see it.
Tottenham wonít be easy on Saturday, but it should be three points in the bag. Thereís been talk of Steven Carr coming in the transfer window Ė he may be out to impress? Who knows?Iím now in South Africa Ė taking a three week holiday with the family. To be honest I need it, Iíve been very busy with both business and football and itís a case of recharging the batteries. With the ESPN job in Singapore and trips to the North East I havenít seen a lot of the family Ė so itís also nice to spend some time with them. So Iíll be sitting in the sun when the ref blows his whistle tomorrow Ė not that Iím trying to rub it in or anything!!
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