A place in the Quarter Finals of the Europa League is on offer tomorrow as Newcastle and Anzhi Makhachkala play out the second leg of their Round of 16 encounter.
United managed to come away from Moscow with a creditable 0-0 draw and became the first team to prevent Anzhi scoring on home (wherever home has been) soil in this competition, and also the first team to avoid defeat at Anzhi in the Europa League this term. They have been strong in Europe this season and have have scored plenty of goals, so to stop them from scoring is major plus for us.
However 0-0 is a dangerous scoreline and whilst we can be happy with our efforts in Moscow we must also be mindful that the job is not done and there is still significant potential for us to be eliminated from the competition, not least when you consider away goals. A goal for Anzhi would mean we’d need to score two to go through so you can see the danger that away goals represent to us.
Yoan Gouffran and Mathieu Debuchy are ineligible for this competition so will miss out, as will Haris Vuckic and Ryan Taylor who both remained sidelined through injury. Fabricio Coloccini is also out and is currently swanning around Argentina attending San Lorenzo games according to reports, as you can see here whilst Tim Krul remains absent with an ankle problem.
As yet news is awaited regarding the availability of Hatem Ben Arfa and Shola Ameobi, both of whom missed the weekend victory over Stoke, but otherwise Alan Pardew has a strong squad to choose from.
FC Anzhi Makhachkala:
Striker Mbark Boussoufa can once again be considered for selection after sitting out the first leg through suspension. However one player who did play in the first leg but is unavailable now is Willian, who picked up a hamstring injury against us and is ruled out of the game tomorrow.
This is the first time that Anzhi will have visited St James’ Park. In fact it is the first time that any Russian side has visited St James’ Park although we’ve had visiting sides from the USSR on Tyneside for friendly matches previously.
Both teams played on Sunday so neither side will have had a longer rest than the other, with United beating Stoke 2-1 at SJP and Anzhi suffering a 2-0 defeat away at Mordovia Sarasnk on their return to domestic action.
Match stats and facts:
Mike Williamson is still waiting to make his 100th appearance for United. One day I might be able to stop writing this particular fact.
Shola Ameobi, if fit, will be looking for his 16th European goal for United and, if played, will make his 50th European appearance for the club.
This will be our 132nd European game. To date we’ve won 73 games, lost 30 and drawn the other 28 matches.
My final thought is simply “go for it” when talking about this game.
At the end of the day we’re here so we why not try and win it? We’re picking up league points now and whilst we’re still not out of the relegation woods the odds of us going down are decreasing each week, as are the odds of us finishing any higher than tenth in the table. Dare I say it but, other than pride, is this the only thing really left to play for? And has it turned from being an inconvenience to a welcome distraction? It has for me…
Howay the lads!
Date: Thursday, 14th March, 2013
Time: 8:05pm – Live on ESPN
Venue: St James’ Park