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Match Preview: Wigan Athletic vs NUFC

Newcastle United’s first game of 2011 against Wigan Athletic could go a long way in seeing the Toon stay in the Premier League. While not quite a relegation six-pointer, it’s a game you would hope Newcastle could get something from. Although that task has been made that little bit more difficult due to Andy Carroll’s absence with a thigh-injury – there is also news that the NUFC number nine could miss out on more games.

Everton’s defeat to Stoke City today meant that Newcastle moved up one place to 12th in the Premier League.

With Carroll missing from the lineup, it’s a chance for Shola Ameobi to prove himself to new boss Alan Pardew. With murmurings of Newcastle wanting to add to their attacking options, one can only wonder how long Ameobi has left at the club. Who would you rather have – Shola Ameobi or Robbie Keane? Thankfully, Kevin Nolan is available again after serving a one match suspension, and we can only hope that Nolan picks up where he left off – the Toon could surely do with a couple of goals from Nolan tomorrow.

Wigan will be without the suspended Charles N’Zogbia after the winger was given a straight red card for a so called headbutt (replays show N’Zogbia merely pushing his head in the opponents direction). Considering that N’Zogbia scored both of Wigan’s goals against us at St. James’s earlier in the season, our defenders should be thankful.

As has been pointed out by pundits across the country, NUFC have as many points at this point in the season as they did when they were relegated. The major difference this time around is the spirit and togetherness within the camp – there are no mercenaries now, it seems every player wants to play and fight for the cause.

No doubt about it, the next two games against Wigan and West Ham are crucial, and they may look easy on paper. However, we all know that everyone is beating everyone in the Premier League this season, and that’s why I’d settle for 4 points against those two sides.

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