Newcastle were drawn against Greek side Atromitos in the fourth qualifying round of the Europa League yesterday, and Newcastle will face a very tough start to the season, with 5 games in the first 15 days.
Alan Pardew – tough games against Athens based side
Three of the games are against tough Premier League opposition in Tottenham, Chelsea and Aston Villa, and sandwiched in between those are the two ties with the Greek Super League side.
Newcastle are currently scheduled to play the first leg in Greeece on Thursday, August 23rd, just two days before we meet Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and the first five games of the season look very tough for Newcastle.
|Sat 18th Aug KO 17:30||Tottenham||St. James' Park, Newcastle|
|Thurs 23rd Aug||Atromitos||Peristeri Stadium, Athens, Greece|
|Sat 25th Aug KO 17:30||Chelsea||Stamford Bridge, London|
|Thurs 30th Aug||Atromitos||St. James' Park, Newcastle|
|Sun 2nd Sep KO 16:00||Aston Villa||St. James' Park, Newcastle|
It would have been a little easier if Newcastle had been drawn first out of the hat yesterday, because then the game on 23 rd August would have been at home, but now Newcastle have to travel back from Greece after the game, and then get to Chelsea for the Premier League game on Saturday.
Alan Pardew will have to use his squad well for the those two games in particular.
But now that Newcastle know their opponents they will trying to rearrange that first fixture in Athens, but they know the Chelsea game cannot be moved since they’ve already tried to do that.
Newcastle tried to moved the London game to the Sunday, but that clashed with the Notting Hill Festival and the request was denied, but they will now try to move the game in Athens to the Tuesday or Wednesday .
Newcastle have already drawn with the Greek Super League Champions Olympiacos in pre-season, and Atromitos finished joint 3rd on points, but in 4th place because of goal difference.
Certainly Alan Pardew doesn’t think the ties are going to be easy as he had this to say on the Newcastle web-site after the draw was made:
“It’s be a hard game, for sure.” “You don’t finish fourth in your league unless you’ve got something going on so they’re obviously on the up.”
“It’s a tough journey which is going to take a little bit away from us. Certainly coming back from there to go to Chelsea on a Saturday is not ideal.”
“I’m sure the fans will enjoy it.” “Athens is a fantastic city so it’ll be great to see the Geordies rumbling around there.”
It’s not only that Newcastle have 5 games in 15 days, but those two ties are very important if Newcastle are going to continue to the group stages of the Europa League.
But the other way to look at it is that successful teams play a lot more games in a season, and those clubs will invariably have to play a number of games in a short time space fairly regularly, and that’s why it’s so important to have a strong squad.
Wonder when those three new players are going to arrive at Newcastle?
But it doesn’t look like they will arrive soon enough to help us in the very tough first two weeks of the season.
What do you think?