Can Alan Pardew fluke another round of the cup with a weakened team?
While Alan Pardew has made various references to playing a strong team tonight against Tottenham, we all surely know he will play a weakened team.
Or rather, what he thinks is a weakened team.
The Newcastle manager has insisted that no game is more important than another but we all know that isn’t the case in the world of Mike Ashley and his managerial sidekick.
The (relative) Cup success this season has been built on Alan Pardew leaving over half the team out and the incoming players clearly surprising both manager and the owner by getting through another round.
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While Newcastle could have been expected to beat lowly Gillingham with pretty much any eleven they sent out, playing away to two other Premier League clubs was clearly a different matter, especially when one of them was reigning league champions Manchester City.
I find it hard to accept that when Pardew made the six changes below for Crystal Palace, that he honestly thought United would still win.
Below is the line-up against Hull and then the one for Crystal Palace which followed straight after, with the players listed who went in and out of the team for the Cup match;
NUFC v Hull
Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Williamson, Dummett, Colback, Tiote, Sissoko, Gouffran, Cabella, Riviere
NUFC v Palace
Elliot, Janmaat, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Dummett, Colback, Abeid, Obertan, Sammy Ameobi, Armstrong, Riviere
Out: Krul, Williamson, Tiote, Sissoko, Gouffran, Cabella
In: Elliot, Steven Taylor, Abeid, Obertan, Ameobi, Armstrong
Then this is what happened after beating Spurs away and what Pardew did for the midweek cup game at Man City that followed;
NUFC v Spurs
Krul, Janmaat, Coloccini, Steven Taylor, Dummett, Colback, Anita, Sissoko, Obertan, Gouffran, Perez
NUFC v Man City
Elliot, Janmaat, Coloccini, Dummett, Haidara, Colback, Obertan, Abeid, Ryan Taylor, Aarons, Armstrong
Out: Krul, Steven Taylor, Perez, Sissoko, Gouffran, Anita
In: Elliot, Haidara, Armstrong, Ryan Taylor, Abeid, Aarons
On Saturday we had the following starting eleven;
NUFC v Arsenal
Alnwick, Janmaat, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett, Tiote, Colback, Gouffran, Ameobi, Perez, Cisse
Players like Armstrong, Abeid, Steven Taylor and others came in for those cup matches above and helped bring home wins that must have surprised (Palace) and then astonished (Man City) Alan Pardew.
I think now though that with injuries and the suspension of Janmaat, the cupboard is just about bare when it comes to making (unexpected to Pardew) credible changes that turned expected defeat into progress in the cup.
Tonight against Spurs, Alan Pardew will undoubtedly make a fair few changes and I hope against hope that the eleven sent out can do the business.
However, I do think that he will have his orders for Sunday when the mackems come calling.
I hope I’m wrong but I can see players such as Coloccini and at least one or two others on the bench, or left out altogether, or ‘carrying knocks/cold’ as the manager has already suggested with Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse tonight.
Tonight is winnable but only if the manager sends out his strongest available team.
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