Stephen Goldsmithwrites: It can be a cruel game this football carry on. Not only did chicken dancing, Sunderland slaying Kevin Nolan nab a point for West Ham against the lads in the last minute on Saturday; he cost me three points in the Salut! Predictions League. How DARE he!
As that gifted 3 points to Colin and Jake, both rather predictably leap-frog me in the table. It’s a sorry state of affairs indeed when you have to rely on a Newcastle win to gain yourself a solitary point.
As Malcolm’s e-mails notifying me of the league standings get quicker by the week, it’s safe to assume that he is going well at the top of the table, along with the reliable John Mac. There was nobody who went pointless this weekend, though Jeremy remains the only person yet to predict a correct scoreline this season. As I am sucked back down towards the basement like some sort of metal object towards this huge magnet of despair, I can only but be glad there was no wagers placed on final league standings.
Colin is actually only above me on the alphabetical technicality. Nope, that statement didn’t make me feel any better.
Stephen Goldsmith writes: I was really tempted to pick some obscure and irrelevant fixture in addition to the lads at West Ham and Newcastle at home to a Michael Turner inspired Norwich this weekend.
But as Sky Sports salivate in anticipation of a handshake and a possible lack of respect displayed from a segment of mindless fans, I felt it was only fair to offer the Liverpool v Man Utd game to our enthusiastic panellists. I think if we’re all honest, it’s a game that is of monumental proportions in this day and age and it’s always one to look forward to.
Without further ado, the predictions are:
West Ham v Sunderland
Sixer: Big Sam is out-thought by the tactical genius known as Martin O’Neill – although Jedward have a better grasp of tactics than the gum chewing former Sunderland centre half. 1-2. Colin:As I have written at ESPN, it won’t be 8-0 to them as in 1968 but beyond that I am unsure so will allow loyalty to dictate. 1-2. Bill: This should be the three-point game we need. The Cats are gelling and, we must hope, building full match-fitness. The Hammers have a perfect home record so far but I think this flatters them. 0-2.
The Rest: Jeremy:2-1. Goldy: 0-1. Robert 1-3. Jake 1-1. Malcolm 1-2. John Mac 1-1.
Newcastle v Norwich City
Jeremy: 1-2. Former boss gets a warm reception at the Temple of Darkness on his return. Canaries battle hard against their hosts and emerge victorious in 3 goal thriller, taking all 3 points back to East Anglia. Jake: Can’t see Norwich getting anything from The Sports Direct Arena, and on top of Ba stealing three points from me at Everton last week with that late goal, I’ll probably get nowt here either. My guess, for what it’s worth is 2-0. Malcolm: I’ll let the head rule this time. I’m afraid that Magpies are bigger and stronger than Canaries who won’t be singing when the final whistle blows. 3-0.
The Rest: Sixer 3-0. Colin 3-1. Bill 3-1. Robert 2-1. Goldy 2-0. John Mac 2-1.
Liverpool v Man Utd
Robert: Liverpool are coming off what they will see as a disappointing draw with Sunderland. United are coming off a resounding win against Wigan. Naturally I’m going to pick Liverpool to get their first win of the season. I think they’ll finally put an entire performance together and get a sneaky 2-1 win. Goldy: These games are always bouncing and I can’t wait for it. Man Utd to lead for the most part but Liverpool to claim a point much to the delight of an emotional Anfield. 1-1. John Mac:A home win after a defensive error and a dead ball into the box. 2-1.
The Rest:Sixer 1-3. Colin 1-2. Bill 2-4. Jeremy 0-3. Jake 0-3 Malcolm 1-2.
Stephen Goldsmith writes: I received an e-mail from Luke apologising for his no entry into the predictions last week. He informed me he was on holiday and I’m beginning to wonder if it’s the Bermuda Triangle where he is donning his union jack shorts this year. He is yet to reply to my e-mails this week but has until kick off tomorrow to get involved. He will probably still outscore me in his absence anyway.
It’s our first home league game of the campaign and there’s sure to be emotions running high within the away following. I remember, as a twelve year old, the respect shown by the Sunderland faithful when West Ham came to Roker Park for a Division One clash (it was the newly formed Division One but was, in reality, Division Two) immediately after the death of the great Bobby Moore in 1993. I expect more exemplary behaviour and an equal display of respect to be shown tomorrow; this considering that the treatment of the –perceived- lower class Liverpool fans can strike a chord with us North Easterners. This is an area that stands proud in both its working class roots and of its football teams. Respect would be given in abundance tomorrow had the game been either here, at Newcastle or at Middlesbrough.
We predict the outcome of this game, Newcastle’s (as always) and just for the hell of it, Norwich v West Ham. Pete Sixsmith’s deep analysis of that particular fixture is awe inspiring.
Sunderland v Liverpool
Malcolm: 3-0. The new boys come good – shame I can’t be there. Hard to tell what if any effect the events of the past week will have on the Reds. I hope our fans show solidarity with the Scousers before kick off then get behind our team once the whistle blows. And MON is too professional to allow the players to concentrate on anything but the task in hand. Robert: Both teams could use a win, however Liverpool are probably the slightly more desperate side. I see our new attacking unit still struggling to come together after the international break which will lead to a 1-1 draw. Colin: Heart, always dodgy when we play Liverpool, rules head. Just enough quality and heart to make this winnable. 2-1.
The rest: Jeremy 2-1. John Mac 2-1. Bill: 2-0. Goldy 1-1. Sixer 2-0. Jake 2-1.
Everton v Newcastle
John Mac: Too much pressure from an attack-minded EFC team which goes forward in numbers. 2-1. Bill: 2-1. Disappointing result for the Mags against Villa- and a significant one. With a forward-line and defence badly in need of fleshing out (a slew of injuries left them without much cover), their season is about to unravel. Come the January window, it’ll be too late. Getting into Europe has done them no favours. Jake: 2-1. I’m officially transferring the honour of Everton being our bogey team over to that of the barcode’s.
The rest: Malcolm 2-0. Jeremy 2-1. Robert 2-1. Goldy 2-0. Colin: 2-0. Sixer 4-0.
Norwich v West Ham
Sixer: Potentially a game of unspeakable dullness. (Gotta love that enthusiastic insight- Goldy) 0-0. Robert: The Hammers looked much improved last time out but they’ll be without new signing Andy Carroll for this one. I suspect neither side will be able to separate themselves too much from the other and see this one playing out to a 1-1 draw. Goldy: Norwich were good at home last season and I think they’ll be adequate at Carrow Road again this time around. They won’t be quite the same force, however, and I expect them to really be knocking on relegation’s door this year. They should win this one though. 2-1.
The rest: Malcolm 1-1. Jeremy 1-2. John Mac 1-1. Bill 1-1. Colin 2-0. Jake 2-1.
Stephen Goldsmith writes: at the time of writing, I had no human e-mail response from Luke this week. As there was some sort of automated nonsense with the word ‘vacation’ in it, I’m guessing he may be on holiday so hasn’t read my initial one to reply to …
Stephen Goldsmith made a rod for his own back when he devised a Predictions League. Bright idea but these things have a habit of needing to be maintained. He’ll learn. In the meantime, here’s how last weekend’s three selected games affected the table …
Every so often, we are reminded that there is more to supporting Newcastle United than nurturing extraordinary delusions of grandeur or helping Mike Ashley provide highly paid employment for recovering criminals. There is also a deep sense of history, as shown by Michael Hudson*, the thoughtful Mag behind the excellent blog on non-league football Accidental Groundhopper, in these reflections on what he judges to have been the first Tyne-Weart derby, back in 1644.
It started with coal. In north-east England, everything started with coal.
The produce of the Northumbrian coalfield had been shipped from Newcastle since the middle of the 13th century, around the time the city’s mayor, Nicholas Scott, was leading a group of armed merchants in setting fire to the rival port of North Shields (an attempted historical re-enactment by residents of the Meadowell Estate went slightly awry in 1991).
“Thank goodness that’s over” says Pete Sixsmith as we scrape a point against a far better Newcastle side. Talk of getting out of jail, fat ladies singing and clutching at straws dominate these observations on a bitterly disappointing derby performance. We need to do better next year !!!!
At 13:48, with the clock running down, I sent my Seven winging across the seas to M. Salut in Penang. “Once again found lacking when it mattered” were my words as we huffed and puffed against a side who were threatening to score a second, and take a deserved three points home with them.
For the umpteenth time we pushed forward with effort rather than skill. The ball dropped to Bardsley who whipped in a shot, Harper parried it and Asamoah Gyan poked it over the line to level the scores.
Wild celebrations from those around me; much jumping about and a feeling that we had not only got out of jail, but that we had kidnapped all the Prison Officers, burnt the place down and reformed the entire criminal justice system. The Fat Lady (or middle aged Man in this case) was singing his head off at this one. Games last for 90 minutes!!!
Quite frankly, we were awful. Whatever weaknesses we had seen against Blackpool and Notts. County were magnified 100x in this scrappy, bitty and, for us, ultimately disappointing derby.
It’s often said that being a Sunderland supporter is never dull. Just when we might have thought we were heading for a straightforward, mid-table finish, we have the low of Newcastle followed by the high of Chelsea. Luke Harvey reflects on an amazing fortnight, and applauds our players’ resilience in bouncing back.
I could write reams and reams on my emotions and thoughts after the amazing destruction of league leaders Chelsea. None would truly convey all my feelings and none would be as good as Sixer’s succinct seven word round up, but the victory over Chelsea is easily as amazing as the Newcastle result was terrible.
The focus and commitment from the team was second to none. From beginning to end we looked in control of the situation, and even with a slender 1-0 lead Chelsea never looked like mounting a serious comeback – although I didn’t rule out the possibility until Welbeck made it three.
As already said elsewhere on this site: we were magnificent from front to back – and all without our talisman Darren Bent, proving we weren’t just a one-man team. With results since the Newcastle debacle looking very promising, it seems like Gyan and Welbeck have quickly formed an understanding up front – although surely Bent’s place in the team won’t be in jeopardy when fit.
While the £13m Ghanaian may be taking most of the plaudits up front – although I’m unsure where I stand on his dancing skills (I won’t complain to seeing them a few more times this season) – the rest of the team are deserving of equal praise.
Ken Waugh*, who runs the Talk of the Tyne fan site, has been unwell, my hand’s been dodgy after an op but we’ve patched together one last derby preview, Ken answering the same questions put to Keith Topping the other day …