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Tony Mowbray looks ahead to Newcastle United replay: “I think we are playing against a Premier League side…”

2 years ago

Tony Mowbray says it is always a problem when you play Premier League clubs in cup competitions.

Never knowing how many of their regular first team they will play and especially against Newcastle on Tuesday night, what formation Rafa Benitez will use.

In normal circumstances Newcastle fans would be wanting Rafa to play his very best team but ‘normal’ is not a word you would associate with NUFC, especially at the moment.

This isn’t a case of prioritising the Premier League over the cups, Rafa Benitez is even struggling to put out a credible eleven in the league.

Apart from a good group of centre-backs, it is in reality only Martin Dubravka and Salomon Rondon who have shown quality this season.

With no credible alternative to either for Saturday’s key relegation clash against Cardiff, Newcastle fans would see it as madness to play either against Blackburn.

The bookies make the home side favourites and Tony Mowbray himself must know they should win on Tuesday night.

A desperate situation when you will still have thousands of Newcastle fans travelling to back the team, whatever team, that plays in this FA Cup replay.

Tony Mowbray

“I think we are playing against a Premier League side…and I think the team know how tough it’s going to be.

“Particularly at home, we have got to have a level of belief that we can go and ask questions of them, put them on the back foot.

“There have been occasions when we have played against top teams, we have had intentions of doing one thing, but their quality pushes you back and you have to do something else.

“In this game we will 100% respect Newcastle as a Premier League side but we will be positive, try to get a positive result.

“We tried to play on the front foot at St James Park and try to take them out of their comfort zone, out of their natural rhythm.

“For long periods I felt that we got some joy out of doing that.

“I think we saw that when they brought their better players on, their more established Premier League players, playing forward passes and who possessed individual quality, that can hurt you if you are not at your best.

“They played a back four in that game, but they have just come back from Chelsea and every other game in the Premier League over the last two months, where they have played with a back three.

“So whether they perceive coming to Ewood Park it to be a necessity to play with a back three, or whether they play with a back four again, we just have to prepare ourselves for anything in this game because we are not sure on what is coming.

“We don’t know how many changes they will make, whether they will play some young players, or whether they will play a Premier League team to try and get through, because at some stage they will have to build confidence themselves and win matches.

“It is a problem in most cup matches, particularly against teams in different leagues.

“I am sitting here now without a clue whether he (Rafa Benitez) will play with a back three or a back four?

“Whether he will play 3-4-3, or his normal formation with attackers and wing-backs.

“The best thing to do is just to prepare ourselves and our mental state to make sure we are ready to play the game.”


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