Tonight is the biggest European game at Newcastle for a number of years, and the lads have a great opportunity to go through to the quarter finals of the Europa League, and be in the hat for tomorrow’s draw in Nyon.
The score stands at 0-0 from the first leg in Moscow last week, and the tie is now very delicately balanced, but a win tonight for Newcastle will send us through to the next round, but a score draw will see Newcastle eliminated.
And if the games ends in a 0-0 draw, then 30 minutes of extra time will be played, and then if it’s still 0-0 after extra time it goes to penalties.
Alan Pardew has said he will play his strongest side tonight, and prioritize this game over our upcoming league game at Wigan on Sunday, but it’s really hard to know what Newcastle’s best team is – and in any case both Yoan Gouffran and Mathieu Debuchy are not eligible to play tonight.
Pardew has played 20 year-old Massadio Haidara in the last two European games, and we think he’ll keep his place at left back, with Davide Santon possibly moving over to right back, although Alan may want the added experience of Danny Simpson at right back.
There’s also a question as to who will play defensive midfield tonight, and that’s between Cheick Tiote, Vurnon Anita and James Perch – who had a great game at center-back in Moscow, alongside the very impressive Yanga-Mabiwa.
But we think Vurnon has a good chance to start this game, given his experience in European competition with Ajax, and he’s a more controlled and tidy player than Tiote has been of late.
Ben Arfa is not fit for this game, and surely that gives a chance to Sylvain Marveaux, who is in top form at the moment, and set up the winning goal for Papiss Cisse in brilliant style on Sunday afternoon against Stoke.
So this could be the side that Pardew starts tonight, for what is a huge game for Newcastle United:
Santon Yanga-Mbiwa Taylor (S) Haidara
Marveaux Anita Cabaye (c) Sissoko Gutierrez
Subs: Harper Perch Simpson Bigirimana Tiote Obertan Ameobi (Sh)
That’s a very good starting line-up and a very strong bench – which will be needed if we are going to get the win tonight.
Alan Pardew had this to say about the Europa League today:
“If I’m honest representing England did get a mention last time we played in this competition.” “Yes, we have a responsibility for not just Newcastle fans but for the English Premier League as well.”
“Why not carry that through? Whether we have French players, Italian players or whatever it doesn’t matter, we represent the Premier League and they are proud to do so.” “We’ll try to do that if we can to the best of our ability.”
“They’re pacy so are a threat on the counter-attack. They can take the sting out of the game and we made hardly any offensive impact in the first game, so hopefully we will come up with our own answers rather than them coming up with defensive answers.”
“0-0 is not precarious, it’s a great position, we need to win the game.” “We squeezed through last time but we want to win this and we’ll have 40,000 Geordies in here going mad.” “ Anzhi lost 1-0 to Liverpool earlier this season and this match will be tough for them.”
“We’ve approached this competition as a significance of our achievement in the league last season. We’re in it to win it, getting to the last eight wouldn’t mean much unless we won it.”
And as we mentioned earlier today, Newcastle fans seem very confident that we can go through tonight, with a huge 92% thinking we can go through tonight.
It’s going to be some game tonight, and we just have to hope that Newcastle get the breaks, and if we can get through and be in the hat for the draw tomorrow at 11:00 am Newcastle time – things will be looking up for Newcastle United.
A bit like old times.
Howay The Lads!!
You can also reach Ed at firstname.lastname@example.org