Newcastle United v Anzhi – Match preview
Newcastle United v Anzhi 8.05pm – Live On ESPN
This one has been a bit of a slow burner but since the three points were banked against Stoke, the momentum has picked up day by day.
Happily, due to demand Level 7 has had to be opened up, unlike previous rounds, with a late rush for tickets today things are definitely looking on the up in terms of support to the team. If you are looking to buy tickets tonight or pay at the cash turnstiles, don’t leave it too late as even for the not so well attended previous matches there have still been queues well after kick-off.
On the pitch Newcastle are missing a few through injuury (Colo, Krul and Ben Arfa) and ineligibility (Gouffran and Debuchy) but the likely starting eleven will be more than capable, if they approach it correctly from the first whistle.
While Haidara is pushing for a start we are almost certain to see Simpson starting and Santon remaining on the left.
The conundrum is likely to be who starts in place of Gouffran; Marveaux, Obertan and Anita the likely candidates. However, I’d never be surprised to see Alan Pardew slip James Perch in, which would allow Cabaye to have more freedom.
Likely team for me is;
Elliot, Simpson, Mapou, Taylor, Santon, Tiote, Perch, Cabaye, Jonas, Sissoko, Cisse
It isn’t a game changer on its own but the fact that this is Anzhi’s third match in a week must be a factor, the Russians having had hardly any competitive football in three months due to their domestic winter break.
Anzhi picked up a number of injuries in our first leg match, including £30m Willian, who didn’t even travel.
While we expect to see a lot more attacking play from Newcastle that the match in Moscow, the same will be true of players like Eto’o and Traore for the visitors. The defence have looked pretty decent in recent matches and I think a clean sheet is a real possibility.
What is for sure is that it will be a different challenge for the defence compared to what they faced from Stoke on Sunday, needless to say we’ll be hoping for a bit more composure from Cheick Tiote.
Rob Elliot looked a little ruffled on Sunday after taking a couple of rough challenges but certainly in the European matches he’s done everything asked of him and he made a couple of excellent saves in Moscow.
Hopefully another great European night in store, let’s all make it special.
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