Heading into the home match with FC Metakist Kharkiv, I have to say that until the last 24 hours I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it.
That though has been swept away with the revelation that Newcastle United are actually going to try and win this cup-tie and…the actual trophy.
This is what Alan Pardew had to say about Thursday night’s match;
“I think it will be probably the strongest team that I have ever sent out to play a knockout match while I have been Newcastle manager.
I have been a bit unfortunate in the previous cup competitions when it comes to injuries but I have no complaints this time – the team will be the strongest it can be.
Even if we got injuries now we could cover them, whereas before we did not have that luxury.
We can enter the rest of the competition with a strong hand, though it is tougher now with Champions League teams falling into the Europa League”.
To be honest I think the manager would be hard pushed not to name his strongest ever cup eleven, considering what has gone before.
You need look no further than the fourteen players involved at Brighton;
Elliot, Tavernier, Williamson, Perch (Dummett 46mins), Santon, Bigirimana, Anita, Sammy Ameobi, Abeid (Ranger 46mins), Obertan (Marveaux 70mins), Shola
I remember watching the match and Santon’s frustration growing by the minute, in the end he was lucky not to get booked. The Italian full-back though is the only one of those fourteen players who would be in the team if Alan Pardew picked his strongest possible eleven.
With Ben Arfa the only key player missing it will be interesting to see whether the manager picks his very best team.
I have a feeling he will, considering that we have no league matches until Southampton a week on Sunday.
With the likes of the Chronicle reporting as fact that Sissoko, Cabaye and Cisse would all play, then you had Krul alongside Alan Pardew at the pre-match press conference, plus Tiote and Mapou seemingly certainties to start, there aren’t a lot of possibilities to consider.
I fancy Marveaux to get the nod as he seems first choice offensive substitute now and I can see Santon swapping to the right to accommodate Haidara’s debut. Maybe the biggest decision for Pardew is whether Coloccini or Taylor partners Mapou on his first start.
Newcastle United, always expect the unexpected.
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