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A crucial three weeks - 12/12/2003

A crucial three weeks
Let's pray he stays fit
   Alan Shearer
   Michael Owen
   Craig Bellamy
   Harry Kewell
   Stephen Carr
   Newcastle United
   Charlton Athletic
   Tottenham Hotspurs

You take a look at the fixture list and see that during the rest of December we’ve 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 – it’s especially crucial. The season target has got to be fourth place and if that’s 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 – so it’s important to come out with more points.

Liverpool have missed Michael Owen and with Harry Kewell out for another couple of games, they’re only going to get stronger. Newcastle, on the other hand, have virtually a full strength squad to pick from – perhaps only Craig Bellamy is being missed. There’s a definite lack of cover for Al, and perish the thought, if he were injured we’d really struggle for goals.

Looking around, I’m not being disrespectful to Charlton or Fulham, but they simply don’t have the size and depth of squad that Newcastle and Liverpool have. You can’t help but feel that they’ll hit a bad patch - which will make fourth place unreachable. If I was to look for a challenger to the two northern clubs, it’d be Charlton or Southampton. But I just can’t see it.

Tottenham won’t be easy on Saturday, but it should be three points in the bag. There’s been talk of Steven Carr coming in the transfer window – he may be out to impress? Who knows?

I’m now in South Africa – taking a three week holiday with the family. To be honest I need it, I’ve been very busy with both business and football and it’s a case of recharging the batteries. With the ESPN job in Singapore and trips to the North East I haven’t seen a lot of the family – so it’s also nice to spend some time with them. So I’ll be sitting in the sun when the ref blows his whistle tomorrow – not that I’m trying to rub it in or anything!!  

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