The game tonight against Metalist Kharkiv is the round of the last 32 in the Europa League – so if we can get through this tie and win the next two game tie, then we’ll make it through to the quarter finals stage – and that would be good.
But those are four games we still have to negotiate in Europe before that, and we expect Newcastle to be going all out tonight for a win to get us off to a good start against the Ukranian side.
And just so we remember how we did in Group D here are the finishing positions – and while we finished second top to Bordeaux – over the last three group games our squad was just a little decimated (yes – that’s an excuse).
Metalist Kharkiv finished top of their Group K on 13 points and they were on the same number of points as Bayer Leverkusen, but won the group on head to head competition as they drew 0-0 and won 2-0 in their games against the Bundesliga side – and their goal difference was one less than that of the German club.
So they are a good side, and it’s hard to know how their winter-break will affect them tonight, and they currently in 4th place in the Ukrainian Premier League after 18 games before the break started in December.
This is what Alan Pardew said about the opposition today:
“We’re up against a new name in terms of European football – and it’s a name, I think, that’s going to stick around for a while.” “It’s a good platform for them but we don’t want to be the victims of that.”
“We’re an old name, a legendary name in some ways in competitions in Europe, and we want to keep it that way and make sure we renew our reputation.” “We were at Whitley Bay on Sunday and they played very well at a difficult venue.”
“They have a large influx of South American players who give the team a real characteristic of technique and that’s probably what we’re going to have to come up against.” “They’re very good at keeping the ball and keeping it away from us, and will probably take our tempo out of the game, so that’s their strength and on the break they’re fast.”
“So we need to be on our guard. As Juventus proved at Celtic, you have to be very clever in how you attack.”
It’s going to be a tough choice for the starting eleven tonight for Alan Pardew, as he supposedly will try to give some players a game – but it looks like he will simply go for his strongest side available for this game.
This could be the starting eleven tonight with the substitutes:
Santon Coloccini Yanga-Mbiwa Haidara
Anita Cabaye Sissoko Marveaux
Cisse Ameobi (Sh)
Subs: Harper Perch Williamson Bigirimana Ferguson Obertan Campbell
What team would you field tonight?
We expect 18 year-old Adam Campbell to be on the bench tonight – and who knows the North Shields youngster may get his second first team appearance tonight – and it would be great if he gets on in the second half.
We thought Mike Williamson would get a start tonight – but it doesn’t seem like he will – so we expect captain Fabricio Coloccini to start this game and play alongside Yanga-Mbiwa who is making his starting debut for the side.
It will also be important for our lads to keep a clean sheet tonight, because of the away goals rule in European competition.
And the result of our poll on the outcome of the game is that over 90% of fans expect us to win this game, so anything else but a win will be extremely disappointing and will put doubts on whether we can get through.
We don’t think the starting eleven in the Ukraine next week will not include any players who will start the important home league game against Southampton on the following Sunday.
We need a good win tonight, and that will help the team in pushing on for the season – both in Europe and in the Premier League.
Howay The Lads!!
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org