TK0003_Tim_Krul_Newcastle_United_NUFCThursday 14 February 8.05pm
Newcastle United 0
FC Metalist Kharkiv 0

Newcastle United extended their unbeaten run in European (non-Intertoto) home matches to 23 on Thursday night but it could and should have been so much better.

A combination of crucial decisions going against us from the match officials and wasteful finishing, meant Newcastle take their chance in the Ukraine next week with no advantage.

The visitors looked dangerous with swift and skillful counter-attacks but Papiss Cisse alone could have had four or five goals on another day.You could argue that at least he made the keeper work but such were the quality of chances that he should have really done better. Firstly, Yohan Cabaye released him with a defence splitting through ball and though Cisse kept the chasing defender at bay, his shot was straight at the keeper. Then in the last seconds he made good connection with his head to a spinning ball but once again could only direct it at the keeper, in between these two golden chances we’d seen Papiss also pass up a couple of half chances as the ball buzzed around the Metalist box.

Cisse did get the ball in the net twice but the linesmen denied him. Replays showed a first time through ball set Sissoko away in an onside position with Cisse converting, only for a disbelieving Newcastle team to see the official’s flag.

Second half and once again a low cross, this time from Mapou, was turned in by Cisse and while TV replays suggested Cisse may have been offside, it was literally by an inch or two and impossible for the human eye to gauge. The official getting it right but only by guesswork, unlucky.

Layout 1Speaking to people after the match, the viewpoint appeared to revolve around how decent supporters though FC Metalist were.

I was in the camp that thought Newcastle had done well against a talented opposition, while others thought United were simply not on top of their game enough.

One thing I did think was that Obertan stood out like a sore thumb as being below the level of his teammates, harsh but true. Yet again he gets a game and then when he gets into an attacking position, he doesn’t take responsibility and passes the ball/buck to Davide Santon to try and create something.

The whole match was played in a kind of stop/start fashion as both teams attacked in their different ways. Five bookings for Newcastle disrupted our flow and it was left to players like Jonas to come into his own as he showed good ball retention and chased back to cover his defence. Speaking of defence, Tim Krul may not have had loads to do but he made some fine saves and just generally has that assured air that makes you think he won’t be beaten, if given decent protection.

Not the best, or worst, day in Newcastle’s European history but a mountain to climb in the Ukraine.

One thing is for sure and that is Newcastle won’t field as strong a team with the Southampton match in mind, which should spell curtains for United, or will it?

Newcastle United: Krul, Mapou, Taylor, Coloccini, Santon, Tiote (Shola 79mins), Cabaye, Obertan, (Marveaux 62mins), Sissoko, Gutierrez, Cisse

Unused Subs: Elliot, Simpson, Perch, Haidara, Anita

FC Metalist Kharkiv: Goryainov, Villagra, Gueye, Torsiglieri, Fininho, Edmar, Torres, Marlos (Willian 73mins), Xavier, Sosa, Cristaldo (Jaja 82mins)

Ref: Tom Harald Hagen (Norway)

Crowd: 30,167

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Champaz 5pts

I've wanted to see Mclaren try 3 cb's and wing backs for a while now, mainly becausei think Haidara gets caught flat alot when playing fullback but how can you think Mitrovic is guaranteed a start when Perez looked very tricky last game?

Hughie 5pts

Interesting concept to play 3 CBs. Likelihood is that we will have about 30-40% possession, so decision is whether to try to stifle that or to play a more attacking lineup. I don't think we can compete with Arsenals keepball, but it needs chasers like Anita to rattle them (like Liverpool did the other day). Therefore I would not play Sissoko who is lazy defensively. I'd play with pace on each wing --ie Thauvin and Obertan (who unlike Sissoko does mark back), with Mitrovic up front if Mertesaker and Koseilny are out. Two harrying midfielders would be Colback and Anita, then Perez or Wijnaldum (if he can do that job??). Back four Janmaat, Mbemba, Collo and Dummett if he's fit.

NatTurner 5pts

Does Gigi really pick himself already? For me he's been the least impressive of the big four signings, which speaks to how exciting the other three look.

Tradge 5pts

Surely switch Thauvin and Sissoko around, Moussa is best utilised through the middle whereas Thauvin is a natural winger!

wor monga
wor monga 5pts

That team looks good to go, for me, Sam…I’d be be happy to see it starting against the Gooners…Janmaat and Haidara can add pace to the attack, and we’d be tight at the back…midfield ticks all the boxes for me…Thauvin, and Mitro up front,”Say No More”…(to coin a phrase from the immortal Geordie comedian, Eric Idle)

Steve1221 5pts

Not a chance in hell we'll play 3 at the back, it'll be the same setup as last week with Janmaat coming in for either MBemba or Taylor and Thauvin replacing Obertan.

killyted 5pts

yep good strong team,the only change I would make is go with a back four,leaving out colo,and play perez just off mitrovic

stepaylor 5pts

Drop colocinni the club captain after his best game in years?

stepaylor 5pts

Not to mention play a very inexperienced at premier league level non english speaking mbemba with an often rash stevie taylor?

killyted 5pts

@stepaylor  you have just said it best game for years,all of last season he was rubbish any team with pace will kill him,young mbemba spoke very good English on tv I thought we were playing football not giving English lessons.anyway just my opinion oh by the way I have been in the pro game possibly some idea

stepaylor 5pts

You think taylor is quicker than colocinni over 6 yards? Not to mention superior decision making/reading of the game?

Not arguing mate i appreciate your replies and input i just feel more confident with colocinni over taylor.