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Rupert Wyman 1st Feb 2011 - 17:46

Mike Ashley to face a Toon Army backlash

There could be an interesting evening of football at Craven Cottage on Wednesday. The Toon will be furious, there may be a massive backlash after Ashley sanctioned the sale of Carroll to Liverpool for £35 million.

I think it is a fantastic sale, a player that was until only recently plying his trade in the Championship , not an England regular and regularly injured, the £35million is football gone mad.  He only recently signed a new contract and in my eyes Ashley used his initiative.

Liverpool were desperate, Torres has joined a club with more to offer at the moment and Carroll was a rash last minute buy to appease the fans. Spurs' fans should be delighted that they were outbid.

Ashley is a businessman and he has not got where he is now without making difficult and topical decisions. His manager Pardew is a friend and a yes man but neither man needs to be worried that Newcastle will go down this season. The sale was great business even if they are a little lightweight up-front.

Newcastle are 11/4 to win away and they take on a Fulham side buoyed by their fantastic 4-0 win at home to Spurs in the cup at the weekend. Fulham are another club that may struggle with scoring in the second half of the season but they are going places. Fulham are 21/20 to win at home and the draw is 9/4.

It took time for Mark Hughes to settle at the club but they are starting to play better football and the results are improving. Fulham can call upon their new signing Gudjohnson, he has a lack of match fitness but he is 15/8 to score anytime.  Bobby Zamora is still injured and will not play any part in the match.

One of the shrewdest signings this transfer window has to be Stephen Ireland. He arrives on loan from Villa and it was only a while ago that he was touted for Arsenal and Man Utd. Nobody knows why it did not work out at Villa, it may be the style of play or a fall-out with the manager.

However, he has an opportunity to show the form he used to display at Man City .

He can take set-pieces and alongside Nolan and Barton, they will form a very effective midfield. Now Carroll has gone, Nolan's role at the club is even more important.  He looks big at 10/3 to score anytime and Newcastle can get something out of this game.

The Newcastle players would much rather be away from home, there will be less tension after the sale of Carroll and Craven Cottage is not an intimidating stadium. The players will be under little pressure to get three points and they can get something out of this game.

I fancy a low scoring draw and the under 2.5 goals (8/13) has some appeal. I think Newcastle are more resolute than Spurs at the back and both teams will struggle to break each other down. Ameobi is leading the line for Newcastle and Lovenkrands is an average replacement.

Fulham have the creativity of Dempsey and Johnson is returning to fitness and form but none of these forwards will strike fear in the defences and the 0-0 at 15/2 is very tempting.



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