Before our two wins at Aston Villa and at home to Chelsea on Saturday – we didn’t really give a hoot about the Europa League, when we’ll be playing Metalist Kharkiv of the Ukraine at home a week on Thursday, and then a week later we’ll play them in the second leg at at their place
Massadio Haidara - could make his debut in Europa League
There is no intervening game on the Saturday between the two Europa League games – and then we play Southampton at home the following Sunday – which is a must win game, but since we are away the previous Thursday – we’ll have traveled before the game against the Saints – that’s not good – and we most definitely will have to play a reserves side in that second game.
But the fixture list is looking a lot easier now we are out of the FA Cup, and our next game is another tough one against 4th placed Tottenham in the early game at White Hart Lane on Saturday afternoon.
And with our acquisition of five good French players last month, our bench is starting to look very strong and of course Cheick Tiote is now on his way back from South Africa and the African Cup of Nations after the Ivory Coast were beaten 2-1 by Nigeria yesterday, with Cheick getting the goal for the Ivory Coast.
We have players like Steve Harper, Rob Elliot, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Cheick Tiote, Massadio Haidara, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Vurnon Anita, Sylvain Marveaux, Dan Gosling, Gabby Obertan and Shola Ameobi who could all be playing in the Europa League.
If we don’t include any of the players who started against Chelsea on Saturday, this is a team we could field against Metalist Kharkiv a week on Thursday at home:
Harper or Elliot
Simpson Williamson Yanga-Mbiwa Haidara
Obertan Tiote Anita Gosling
Ameobi (Sh) Marveaux
Since we only have three recognized strikers – the second striker position is a question mark – and remember that Yoan Gouffran is not available because he has already played in the Europa League for Bordeaux this season.
And here’s a thought – since we have no game on the following Saturday in the home tie against Metalist Kharkiv - we could even field our first team in that game – and then have the above team in the away tie in the Ukraine the following Thursday, and then play our first team against Southampton three days later.
Our position in the Premier League is the most important – that almost goes without saying – and we need to keep winning – but if we can pick up 3 points at White Hart Lane on Saturday, don’t be surprised if Newcastle give the Europa League a good go before the end of the season.
What do you think?
Note – I initially had the home and away ties with Metalist Kharkiv the wrong way round - I corrected that.
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org