The glamour and excitement of the FA Cup….but what will be the Newcastle team v Luton?
With the visitors bringing just under eight thousand fans it makes it a more interesting game and little doubt that the League Two leaders will throw everything at the match.
What about Rafa Benitez and Newcastle though?
Well the United boss has been asked if he is looking forward to the third round clash and whether it will be a ‘welcome distraction’ from the relegation battle:
“We have two or three injuries and maybe they will need (more) time…we don’t have too many players.
“Playing two games in a few days, we needed to change players (for the match at Stoke).”
I am guessing that this game on Saturday will be pretty much top of the 19 FA Cup matches played under Mike Ashley (see details of the 18 previous ones below), whereby the Newcastle fans will be most understanding when it comes to the manager’s team selection.
Newcastle don’t have that many quality players anyway and the few he does have, there is no way Rafa Benitez will risk the likes of Jamaal Lascelles and others, with a crunch relegation clash against Swansea only seven days later.
Just look at what Rafa did earlier in the season for the League Cup.
Newcastle team that started in 1-0 Premier League defeat at Huddersfield – 20 August 2017:
Elliot, Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba, Atsu, Hayden, Merino, Ritchie, Gayle, Perez
Newcastle team that started in 3-2 League Cup defeat at home to Forest – 23 August 2017:
Darlow, Gamez, Hanley, Mbemba, Sterry, Aarons, Saivet, Barlaser, Murphy, Diame, Mitrovic
The Newcastle manager made 10 changes for that Forest game and I am expecting a very similar line-up for Luton, potentially even weaker (on paper).
I think Paul Dummett will get a game to help get him fully fit and add a bit of experience, maybe alongside Chancel Mbemba at centre-back, to protect Lascelles and Clark.
Then possibly Sterry and Haidara full-backs, with other fringe players such as Barlaser, Saivet and Aarons also playing. Could even Jack Colback get a game to remind people he is still here and help hasten a move?
Maybe the big question will be what is the state of play with Aleksandar Mitrovic? The line from the club has been he is suffering from a minor back problem but Mitrovic himself claimed in an interview with Serbian media that he is fighting fit and desperate to play football again.
No doubt many of the kids turning up on Saturday will be hoping that Mitro is involved for added interest.
Remember as well, if you are going to go to the Luton game, get your tickets before Saturday, as the £10 adults £5 concessions doubles on the day of the game.
Look at the game as a positive, hopefully some of those fringe players looking to prove a point, Newcastle win the game, get another nice home draw, beat Swansea and Manchester City then we can attack that fourth round…
All 18 FA Cup matches played so far by Newcastle under Mike Ashley:
Oxford 3 Newcastle 0 – 28 January 2017 (Fourth round!)
Newcastle 3 Birmingham 1 – 18 January 2017 (Third round replay)
Birmingham 1 Newcastle 1 – 7 January 2017
Watford 1 Newcastle 0 – 9 January 2016
Leicester 1 Newcastle 0 – 3 January 2015
Newcastle 1 Cardiff 2 – 4 January 2014
Brighton 2 Newcastle 0 – 5 January 2013
Brighton 1 Newcastle 0 – 28 January 2012 (Fourth Round)
Newcastle 2 Blackburn 1 – 7 January 2012
Stevenage 3 Newcastle 1 – 8 January 2011
West Brom 4 Newcastle 2 – 23 January 2010 (Fourth round)
Newcastle 3 Plymouth 0 – 13 January 2010 (Third round replay)
Plymouth 0 Newcastle 0 – 2 January 2010
Newcastle 0 Hull 1 – 13 January 2009 (Third round replay)
Hull 0 Newcastle 0 – 3 January 2009
Arsenal 3 Newcastle 0 – 26 January 2008 (Fourth round)
Newcastle 4 Stoke 1 – 16 January 2008 (Third round replay)
Stoke 0 Newcastle 0 – 6 January 2008