10.00pm:

Final thoughts

Newcastle badly needed a result tonight, and won't give a hoot that it came as a result of a disputed early penalty/red card decision followed by a far-from-convincing rest-of-match display against 10 men. Besides, their third goal was delightful, and whose cockles wouldn't be warmed by that kind of delicacy? As for Wigan, there's no time for them to mope around sulking – QPR are coming to visit on Saturday, and they need to be beaten. There wasn't much quality here for them to shout about, but there was no lack of application, which I guess is encouraging.

Anyway, the most important thing is: it's over. Goodnight!

9.53pm:

Final score: Newcastle 3-0 Wigan

90+5 mins: Peeeeeep! It's all over!

9.53pm:

90+4 mins: Lovely skill by Kone to find space in the penalty area, and then useless technique by Kone to loop his cross straight out of play.

9.52pm:

90+3 mins: To say this match is petering out would be an insult to people called Peter. Ameobi's left-foot thunderbolt rolls out of play 15 yards wide of goal.

9.51pm:

90+2 mins: Here's another fact. I've got to say that it's at least as interesting as the one I quoted in the 81st minute, but they can't both be right. Who do you trust?

9.50pm:

90+1 mins: We'll have four glorious minutes of stoppage time to savour.

9.49pm:

90 mins: Chance! Ferguson does well on the left and sends in a low cross, and Cissé sprints across the six-yard box to make sure he'll be first to it, but he turns it rather limply goalwards.

9.46pm:

87 mins: Ba, feeling his hamstring, takes his time leaving the field and won't come back on tonight, so with Newcastle having used their three substitutions this game will end X v X.

9.44pm:

85 mins: Ba runs through on the right, with Cissé unmarked but offside to his left. Ba passes the ball inside, and the flag is raised. Why Cissé couldn't get himself behind the ball, and why Ba couldn't see he was offside and not give him the ball, is absolutely beyond me. Ba is so horrified he fell over and still hasn't got up.

9.42pm:

81 mins: Ferguson, continuing to put himself about a bit, nicks the ball from Stam's toes and nearly runs clear. Al-Habsi clears out of play, allowing Wigan to replace Di Santo with McManaman. And here's an interesting factoid for you.

9.37pm:

77 mins: Matt Le Tissier is discussing his own disciplinary record at very great length. It's that kind of game. We've had the time he was a substitute and got booked before he came on. We've had the time he was shown two yellow cards at Liverpool. We've had the time he was sent off in an FA Cup quarter-final. It's thrilling stuff, it really is.

9.36pm:

77 mins: Sammy Ameobi has already been fouled, fouled someone, and been booked.

9.35pm:

75 mins: Newcastle are about as unconvincing as any team rampaging to a 3-0 home victory against 10 men can ever be, but this is the kind of match which while not exactly thrilling to watch, will look pretty good on the highlights – there's been enough moments of individual skill to make sure of that. Sammy Ameobi replaces Gutierrez.

9.31pm:

GOAL! Newcastle 3-0 Wigan (Bigirimana, 71)

Gael Bigirimana picks up the ball level with the right side of the penalty area, perhaps 40 yards out. He carries it 10 or 15 yards forward, checks onto his left foot, gives himself plenty of space, and then smacks it into the opposite corner of the net. Very nice indeed.

9.27pm:

68 mins: Off-camera, Di Santo was booked for complaining about Ferguson's challenge.

9.26pm:

66 mins: Wigan clear Newcastle's corner and break. Di Santo tries to outpace Coloccini, decides he probably can't, checks back and is then utterly steamrollered by Ferguson, arriving at pace from way out of Di Santo's field of vision, who gets the ball and keeps right going. Di Santo's fine, but shocked.

9.23pm:

63 mins: Wigan continue to press, striking a delicate balance, which I imagine is really rather hard to achieve, between looking like they might score sometime soon, and looking like they will never score again.

9.18pm:

59 mins: Anita, standing on the half-way line, chips the ball over Wigan's defence and into Cissé's pass. His shot is off target.

9.17pm:

58 mins: There are 21 people, most of them quite good footballers, playing football. I like watching people play football. Some of them, Marvaux in particular, are doing some decent entertaining. I'm also doing an MBM, which should keep me on my toes. But for some reason my brain keeps telling me that it's bored.

9.15pm:

55 mins: A gorgeous long-distance slaloming run from Marvaux ends with a pass to Bigirimana, whose first-time shot is saved by al-Habsi, and Ba inexplicably attempts to backheel the rebound in from the touchline.

9.13pm:

54 mins: Stam stops playing and clutches his face. Gutierrez puts his hand in the air to admit responsibility. The referee waves play on. Not much in it, really, just a bit of arm's-length slappage.

9.12pm:

52 mins: Marvaux picks up the ball 30 yards out, facing away from goal, then turns around and runs towards it until he's finally about 16 yards out with only the goalkeeper, and the actual goal, in front of him. He passes the ball into al-Habsi's arms.

9.08pm:

50 mins: Another substitution, Shane Ferguson replacing Davide Santon.

9.07pm:

48 mins: Wigan attack down the right, and Stam slams in a low cross that Krul just about deals with. A moment later, Di Santo gets in a decent amount of space 20 yards from goal but his shot is woeful.

9.05pm:

47 mins: The second half is all Wigan, so far. "Re: Watford's scouting," writes Russell Yong, harking back to pre-match conversations (although to be fair he sent his email about an hour ago), "isn't this the same academy that at one point featured Danzelle St Louis Hamilton (goalkeeper) and John-Joe O'Toole? I like to think some of the parents round Watford way are all in the same 70s funk group.

9.04pm:

Peeeeeeeeeep!

46 mins: We're off! Again! Wigan this time do the kicking-off.

9.04pm:

Substitutions: Tiote is off and Gael Bigirimana is on. Wigan bring on Adrian Lopez for the nearly-sent-off Gary Caldwell.

9.01pm:

Was it a red card? Gary Neville isn't sure. He thinks Cissé's fall was unnatural and forced, and isn't convinced that Figueroa didn't have a right to attack the ball, but the discussion of the incident is packed with a great deal of uncertainty. It is, in short, one of those calls that could have gone either way, and it went the way of the home side.

What we can say about the red card decision, with near-total certainty, is that it hasn't exactly done much to make the neutrals' night.

8.48pm:

45+3 mins: Peeeeeeeep! It's half-time. There's not been an enormous amount of quality, and the sending-off hasn't exactly helped the game grow into an engrossing contest, but … um … stay with me, it still might get interesting.

8.47pm:

45+2 mins: "In the always competitive category of 'Worst game of football in which two goals have been scored', we have a winner," writes Emmett Keane, as Tiote thwacks another long-range effort over the bar. "So much action I can actually hear a fan stirring his Bovril. I always though I'd like to be a sports journalist but not tonight. Where's the remote?"

8.46pm:

45+1 mins: We're into the first of two minutes' stoppage time. Colloccini thwacks a cross/through-ball straight out of play.

8.45pm:

44 mins: McCarthy brings down Ba fairly cynically, but again there's no yellow card. It's almost as if the referee's trying to compensate for something...

8.43pm:

42 mins: First the Duke of Cambridge, now the Prince of Midfield!

8.43pm:

40 mins: Wigan continue to gamely chase and harry and generally disrupt Newcastle's flow, but don't look much like scoring. And here are a couple of interesting tweets from a member of the Opta team.

8.38pm:

37 mins: The ball is played to Caldwell, in his own area and about 10 yards of space, but he is instantly closed down by Ba, and looks very likely to clumsily give the ball away in a horrendous area, before the ball bobbles away to a team-mate. A few seconds later Tiote has another long-range shot, which swoops over the bar. Nice hit.

8.36pm:

36 mins: Caldwell slides in on Cissé with his right foot, then having missed the ball swings his other leg round and takes the Newcastle forward out at the knee. He's already been booked, but the referee lets him off with a charitable warning.

8.35pm:

34 mins: Marveaux's shot is trickling harmlessly wide when al-Habsi decides to make extra sure and pushes it even further wide for a corner.

8.34pm:

33 mins: Wigan continue to attack nicely down the wings, and close down well in midfield, but don't have anyone to win the subsequent crosses. "I know I keep saying this but it's so bleedin' obvious, someone must take note soon," writes Gary Naylor. "The foul that leads to a penalty is not the Denial Of A Goal Scoring Opportunity – it's the creation of a goal scoring opportunity. So no red card and no overly imbalanced matches."

8.33pm:

31 mins: Newcastle cross from the left, Cissé puts himself about a bit and the ball bounces around dangerously before looping to al-Habsi. "Pedantry alert," writes Sean Clayton. "Would Wigan conceding a penalty and conceding the goal both count as elements of a whammy trifecta? We need an official Guardian whammyometer as part of the all-new bells'n'whistles website." I'll get the tech guys onto it straight away.

8.30pm:

30 mins: Caldwell has been booked, and like Figueroa will be suspended from Saturday's vital QPR clash.

8.28pm:

26 mins: Beausejour very nearly presents the ball to Ba inexplicably. "You have to say that was barely a penalty and certainly not a foul that deserved a red card," writes Nicholas Saint. "Home refereeing if you ask me after two bookable fouls by Newcastle overlooked." They were bookable fouls, I think, but I also think the penalty was probably a foul – Figueroa didn't have the ball under control when he thrust out his shoulder to end Cissé's run.

8.24pm:

23 mins: Wigan take off Jordi Gomez, and bring on McArthur.

8.22pm:

GOAL! Newcastle 2 Wigan 0 (Ba, 21)

Santon picks up the ball in the left-back position and powers forward before slamming the ball goalwards with his right big toe from 25 yards. al-Habsi couldn't possibly catch the ball, but he might have avoided pushing it to the edge of his six-yard box, where Ba is lurking to pop in the rebound.

8.21pm:

20 mins: If you're not watching, the penalty offence looked a little bit like this.

8.19pm:

19 mins: A nice Newcastle move, in which they seemed to have at least a couple more players than Wigan, ends with Marveaux crossing from the left and al-Habsi plucking the ball out of the air one-handed.

8.18pm:

17 mins: Williamson passes the ball to Colloccini, who gives it away for no good reason, and it looks like Wigan might prosper until someone gives the ball to Kone, who surrenders it limply.

8.17pm:

16 mins: Ba gets the ball, checks right, checks left, and then boshes a shot a million miles high and a thousand miles wide.

8.17pm:

15 mins: I've not yet seen a replay of the penalty offence, but it looked like a clear foul, Cissé forcefully pushed off course as he hared goalwards.

8.14pm:

GOAL! Newcastle 1-0 Wigan (Ba 13pen)

A triple-whammy! The goalkeeper goes the right way, but the penalty is struck low and hard and right into the corner, with a very short run-up. And a quadruple-whammy – Beausejour has been booked for dissent!

8.13pm:

Maynor Figueroa sent off!

He was the last man, so I guess it was a formality, but this is a double-whammy for Wigan. Will it be a triple-whammy? Ba has the ball...

8.13pm:

Penalty for Newcastle!

12 mins: Ba plays in Cissé, who is shoved aside by Maynor Figueroa and goes sprawling. Penalty!

8.10pm:

8 mins: Newcastle have spent the last couple of minutes attacking. They didn't really do anything exciting with it, but I thought I should mention it. It all ended with Cissé hacking down Beausejour on the touchline. Both he and Tiote might have been booked, but weren't.

8.06pm:

6 mins: Wigan keep pressing, and a second corner is played along the ground by Beausejour, quite a long way, to Di Santo, standing pretty much where he was when he took his earlier shot. This one is low, hard, and easier for Krul.

8.05pm:

4 mins: Nice save from Krul! Di Santo gets the ball in a few yards' space about 20 yards from goal, and curls it towards the top corner. Newcastle's goalkeeper tips it around a post.

8.04pm:

3 mins: Tioté might not be known for his long-range shooting, but he's on more familiar ground when hacking down Gomez. "When it comes to young players with great names, it’s difficult to top this Chelsea academy player," writes George. It's hard to argue.

8.01pm:

Peeeeeeeeep!

1 min: Newcastle's Demba Ba gets proceedings under way. Eighteen seconds later Cheik Tioté scares Ali al-Habsi with a 30-yard effort that screeches across goal and wide.

7.57pm:

Action imminent

The teams are lining up, ready to enter the arena. An anthem, some handshakes, a coin toss, a bit of kicking the ball about with mascots and a Sky ad break are all that lies between us and kick-off.

7.55pm:

Killer omen

7.51pm:

"If anything, a name that cool would be wasted in fitba," writes Ryan Dunne of Jazzi Barnum-Bobb. "Abbreviating the surname to Ba-Bo would give a tremendous hip-hop name ('Jazzi Ba-Bo with ma blunts and hoes!' etc), whereas going with the full Jazzi Barnum-Bobb glory would give the perfect name for a Jedi Knight or exotic Cantina alien! Jazzi would probably get an action figure out of it (that's what I'd do)." Yes, the world certainly is his oyster. With a name like that, what – other than politics, possibly – could he not do?

7.45pm:

Does anyone know why Sky are soundtracking Gary Neville's pre-match tactical analysis with Marc Bolan?

7.38pm:

Alan Pardew says

"We're not used to losing at this football club, and we don't like it."

Well if they're not used to it now, they never will be. He also says it's a very important game.

7.36pm:

Team news

You'll notice that Newcastle have replaced the suspended James Perch with Sylvain Marveaux, and are otherwise unchanged. One change also for Wigan, with Gary Caldwell displacing Adrian Lopez after passing a late fitness test.

7.35pm:

The teams are in!

And they look like this:

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Marveaux, Tiote, Anita, Gutierrez, Ba, Cisse. Subs: Harper, Bigirimana, Shola Ameobi, Sammy Ameobi, Ranger, Ferguson, Tavernier.
Wigan: Al Habsi, Stam, Boyce, Caldwell, Figueroa, Gomez, Jones, McCarthy, Beausejour, Di Santo, Kone. Subs: Pollitt, McManaman, McArthur, Boselli, Fyvie, Lopez, Golobart.
Referee: Mike Jones.

7.33pm:

Silly names

Talking of silly names, and bringing conversation back to football, my current favourite footballer's name is the Watford youth prospect Jazzi Barnum-Bobb. A name to relish, that one. A name to roll around your mouth, to savour and enjoy. For the sake of all of us, for the national spirit, he should be fast-tracked into the England side. I don't care how good he is. Incidentally – even more incidental than the first bit of this paragraph, implausibly – Google tells me that Barnum-Bobb joined the Hertfordshire side earlier this year on the same day as Bobson Bawling and Kurtis Cumberbatch. I don't know who's doing the youth scouting at Watford these days, but I like his style.

7.26pm:

Evening world!

So, here we are then. Football. And tonight's battle pits the out-of-form against the formless.

If the season started at the start of November, and ended at the end of November, if it was a month-long sprint rather than an enormous bloated marathon, Newcastle would have finished bottom of the 2012 Premier League with a single point from five matches. Even QPR would have done twice as well as them. Reading got five points in the same period; Stoke got 10. Newcastle have lost their last four on the spin. Perhaps things can only get better, and initial signs are promising: a table based entirely on results so far in December would put them in 12th – and they haven’t even played. This would probably be more of a problem if only Wigan’s form was a bit cleverer, but it fairly emphatically is not – they’ve lost three of their last four, only beating Reading at home (and even then they needed a last-minute goal).

Not only are the teams in nearly-equally poor form, not only are they tied at 14 points apiece in the actual Premier League table, but they also can’t be separated on head-to-head record, with each team having won five league games and drawing twice, and each team having won one cup game and drawing once. Having said that, at St James’ Park it’s all very one-sided – Newcastle have won four and drawn two of their league meetings here.

Anyway, enough of this nonsense. It's going to be a wonderful game. I'm excited. Oh, and have some music. It's from Australia. The singer is called Nai Palm, which is a bit silly, but I think the song is pretty good.

4.09pm:

Preamble

Simon will be here from 7.30pm.

Match pointers

• Newcastle have not lost three consecutive league matches at St James' Park since April 2009, shortly before they were relegated to the Championship

• Wigan have drawn three of their last seven games on Tyneside, with the scoreline being 2-2 on each occasion

• Since Papiss Cissé joined Newcastle they have played 29 league games with Cissé scoring 15 goals and Demba Ba nine, but they have only scored in the same game twice

• Ali al-Habsi has made more saves (80) than any other top-flight goalkeeper