Oxford (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

We may be unbeaten in our last 7 (somehow!), but things can only get better from a performance perspective after that dreadful display against Norwich on Saturday.

Our season is on track to be a ‘success’ based on Premier League survival, however this is our biggest game of the season to date, giving us the chance to progress to the last 16 of the FA Cup for the first time in 14 years.

League One opponents await, with tonight’s victors facing a tricky but winnable trip to West Brom in the next round – meaning we’re two wins against lower league opposition away from the Quarter Finals!

It’s set to be screened live on BBC One, with the TV cameras and Kassam crowd all hoping for an FA Cup upset, but it’s essential Bruce and the boys step up and get the job done in a game that could make or break our season.

Predicted XI

In goal, it’s been confirmed that Dubravka hasn’t travelled, meaning Darlow looks set for another FA Cup run out.

At centre-back, Lejeune and Schar are set to start, and look likely to play either side of skipper Jamaal Lascelles.

At wing-back, Yedlin came off early on Saturday so should be fresh (although Lazaro would’ve been nailed on if he was able to play here), while Ritchie seems our only option down the left given Willems is crocked and Rose ineligible.

In the middle, Bruce has already confirmed that the two Longstaff’s will start, but the situation is less clear out wide, with Almiron ‘close to burning out’ and Saint-Maximin ‘not 100%’ according to Bruce.

Atsu is an option (and I can see him starting with ASM spared unless we need him late one), while youngster Tom Allan could get a few minutes from the bench late on.

Up top, Joelinton is another who needs a break badly, but he also needs a goal, so he’s almost certain to start again given he’s our only fit striker while Carroll, Gayle and Muto remain injured.

Predicted NUFC XI – (3-4-2-1): Darlow – Schar, Lascelles, Lejeune – Yedlin, M Longstaff, S Longstaff, Ritchie – Almiron, Atsu – Joelinton.

The Opposition

One ‘boost’ for Bruce and blow for Oxford is the fact key men Shandon Baptiste & Tariqe Fosu completed deadline day moves to Brentford.

Considering Baptiste gave Yedlin something to think about in the opening stages at St James’ Park, this may not do our chances of progressing any harm.

Since the 0-0 draw on Tyneside they’ve played once and won, beating Blackpool 2-1 at home last Saturday.

Team news

Bruce has confirmed that Schar, Lejeune and the both Sean and Matty Longstaff will start, but it’s reported that key man Martin Dubravka hasn’t travelled (rested).

Sadly, new boys Rose and Lazaro are ineligible after missing the opening leg, while Shelvey, Carroll, Gayle, Manquillo, Krafth, Muto and Dummett remain out injured.

Youngsters Tom Allan and Jack Young have travelled with the squad and could make the bench.

Prediction

We were poor in the opening meeting at St James’ Park, but it was also clear Oxford had far more about them than the Rochdale side we cut through all too easily for 75% of the tie.

They even had chances to win it at St James’, so it’s essential we turn up with the right attitude here – especially when they’ll be desperate for a cup upset in front of the TV cameras.

That said, they’ve sold two of their best players to Brentford since we last met and I’d also argue playing away from home could work in our favour after Saturday’s woeful display.

I don’t think it’ll be pretty, but I think we’ll get the job done.

Prediction: Oxford 1-2 Newcastle

(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.

39 thoughts on “Oxford (A): Pre-match thoughts, team news & predicted line ups

  1. Saivet is reportedly on £50k a week. Is it any wonder the Longstaffs aren’t prepared to be undervalued…

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  2. Stu, agree mate, we will end up losing one or both due to the miser that owns us.
    Will be very unhappy if we lose Matty in particular who i suspect has a great future.

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  3. The club is just not offering enough money for the two kids who should have a great future with us. Cheapskates all the way!

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  4. From what I’ve seen in interviews with these 2 they are living out a boyhood dream. For Matty Longstaff to score against Man Utd at SJP – and to see him celebrate with Sean in front of his family at full time – that’s unreal.

    These boys aren’t mercenaries. I truly believe their first choice would be to stay and play for NUFC (certainly at this stage of their careers).
    But they are from a sporting family – their uncle is Alan Thompson who has been there and done it – and is certainly not going to sit back and watch them get a bum deal. I’m not suggesting he’s their agent or anything like that – but their whole family will be looking out for them and making sure the agent gets them what they deserve.

    Saivet is on around £50k and Colback won’t be far behind – both will be gone in the summer.

    So pay the lads what they are worth and stop f@cking around!!.

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  5. I think there has been a major change in mood in the last week. There certainly has been from me. I am no longer willing to hear the excuses that our players are only good enough. It is the system and it is sucking the life out of the fans.

    Bruce is starting to believe the pundits and his own rhetoric that he is doing a great job. He has been unbelievably lucky and has been bailed out by his goalkeeper. We are bottom of most meaningful stats and that catches up with you. Dubravka has saved us. Just like De Gea did with Man U and now he is playing like a mere mortal you see the real team emerge. If Dubravka’s form dips we will see what this formation is really good for – relegation form.

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  6. The 3 centre halfs is supposed to give a solid base and allow the full backs to be wing backs and push up. You also don’t need 2 holding midfielders in this system but that is what we play. It is essentially a 7 at the back (minimum) 95% of the time as the formation.

    And then even the forwards track back to provide support for the defense. They shouldn’t need it, but they do because we always play so deep in our own half. The only outlet is a hoof to an isolated Joelinton or St Max and Almiron trying to run it out and take on the whole opposition team because they have no-one to pass to.

    In truth, I think Miggy would track back anyway but it is up to the Manager to tell him he should be staying further up the field more often to offer a threat and keep the opposition defenders honest. Too often their centre halfs are on the half way line bullying Joelinton. No wonder he has looked lost at times.

    I sense a mood change where we recognize we are playing sh!t football and the backs to the wall system against even poor opposition with eventually backfire.

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  7. Bruce has just been given 60 million worth of loan talent in this transfer window – Rose was worth at least 20 million until his fallout with Levy.

    And yet we are still hearing we don’t have the players to compete or play anything other than this dire mess/get bailed out by Dubravka football. And remember Brucie also said it would take 6 transfer windows to fix. Who does he think he is Ole Gunner Solsjkaer!

    I work in the insurance and investment industry and I know a con when I hear t because I hear it every day.

    I bet Farke or Potter would do cartwheels if they could swap their squad for ours. They may both go down but they are the ones with Championship level squads NOT US.

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  8. Bruce is starting to sound like Dour Dave when he took Sunderland down or Rafa when he said it would take a miracle for us to stay up last year. Moyes believed it but Rafa was more stroking his own ego, but neither should have said it.

    I could accept Bruce trying to push Ashley into getting reinforcements but the transfer window has closed now. You have some very talented players if only you knew what to do with them. He really is also starting to sound Pardew-esque now. Getting the excuses in before we even step on the pitch.

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  9. Eric – How do you think the players feel hearing the manager thinks they’re only capable of running around after the ball and not actually being able to pass it and attack?

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  10. If we had Steve Harper in goal this season we would have had 15 points.

    Everybody loves Steve and he seems like a really nice guy but very often he would stand rooted to the spot and watch the ball fly by. If we had that type of keeper we would have 15 points !!!!!!!!!!!

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  11. Stuart: maybe it is Brucie’s cunning plan, reverse psychology 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Tell them they are sh!t and they will then go all out to prove him wrong. Except they are handicapped by the 9-0-1 formation.

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  12. And I don’t want to hear any excuses about a depleted team tonight:

    Schar was touted as our best player earlier in the season.

    Ritchie was a revelation at wing back last year.

    Lejeune was our best player when fully fit

    Lascelles was touted for England and a move to Chelsea

    Sean Longstaff supposedly received a 25 mil offer from Man U

    Matty L supposedly has both Milans as suitors.

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  13. You have to give me updates lads and lasses. Not on TV in the US.

    I cannot listen to another second of that manic depressed Ando so will not be listening to Radio Newcastle. “Fer me do he shud a past dat dare like, shocking. Absolutely shocking”.

    No Ando, what is shocking is that you get paid for being an absolute misery!!!

    I am only a part time misery and I don’t get paid for it 🙂

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  14. And we have been pathetic in the last 20 mins. Counter attacked at a pace that would be better judged on a calendar.

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  15. If Jabba does have an offer on the table for the club he’d be wise to take it. We are well capable of losing 8 on the trot and that puts us right in the ****

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