And so another season comes to an end. The Premiership trophy is safely ensconced in the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet for a second successive year, as is the Community Shield. No matter what people say about the club’s achievements this season, you can’t argue with back-to-back Premiership titles.
Our final game of the season at St. James’ is likely to have an air of anticlimax to it. Not only because the title is already won but also because Alan Shearer is injured. What would have been Shearer’s swan song before he signs for the BBC and bores us all stupid as a pundit is now nothing more than a chance for him to bid a fond farewell to the Geordie faithful from the sidelines. Which is a shame.
Jose Mourinho will again field a much changed starting eleven. John Terry is still recovering from an ankle injury sustained in last weekend’s thrashing of Manchester United, while Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Michael Essein, Claude Makelele, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech will all be rested.
Shaun Wright-Phillips, Lassana Diarra, Maniche (last game for the club?), Carlo Cudicini and a couple of the reserves — Michael Mancienne and Jimmy Smith — who have been training with the first team this week will likely get a run out. Eidur Gudjohnsen, who has been the subject of several transfer rumours this week, could also feature. If he’s missing from the sqaud… then the rumours may prove to be well-founded.
In addition to Shearer, Newcastle could also be without Michael Owen. The England forward played thirty minutes for the first time since Christmas last weekend, and reported feeling pain in his injured foot. He’ll undergo a late fitness test and won’t start unless one hundred percent fit. Scott Parker, Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer are also out.
Prediction: The Magpies have improved no end since the hapless Graeme Souness was sacked and Glen Roeder given temporary charge. They have won 10 of the 16 League and Cup games played under Roeder and are now said to be considering offering him the job on a full-time basis — if he can pass his exams this summer.
Blackburn Rovers’ win over us in midweek put paid to the Magpies’ chances of a UEFA Cup place next season, but a route into Europe via the Intertoto Cup is still open to them if they manage to hang on to seventh place, ahead of the faltering Bolton Wanderers.
But even with most of our first team regulars missing, I still feel the Magpies will struggle. If Roeder includes the Keystone Kop-like defensive duo of Titus Bramble and Alain Boumsong, then we’ll score at least two. 1-2.
Newcastle United 1 – 0 Chelsea · Update
Give Glen Roeder the job.
Roll on June 9th.
Match reports: BBC Sport; Sky Sports; ESPNSoccernet; Official Chelsea FC Website; Daily Telegraph; The Times; The Guardian; The Independent; Black & White & Read All Over.