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

With a win over Chelsea last weekend and an unbelievable late draw at Everton in midweek, our relegation fears are easing, with us just 10 points away from that 40-point mark already. But we want more than that.

Each season shouldn’t be about merely ‘surviving’, and we’ve longed for the club to take the Cups seriously – so here’s our chance.

Beat Oxford United on Saturday and we we will reach the 5th Round of the FA Cup for the first time since 2006!

It’s not a stat to be proud of but it shows what a huge chance this game represents, and it seems fans have grasped that, with a crowd of over 50,000 expected to be inside St James’ Park on Saturday afternoon.

Our opponents sit 5th in League One so are no non-league Mugs, but with Bruce set to play a full strength side, let’s hope we arrive with the right attitude and have too much for them!

Predicted XI

Bruce is clearly taking the cup seriously and rightly so, vowing to name a strong side against the team that beat Rafa Benitez’s NUFC 3-0 in the FA Cup back in 2016.

Lejeun is out, but it would be no surprise to see Schar make his first start in a few weeks here, meaning one of Fernandez, Lascelles or Clark could drop out.

At wing-back, Ritchie looks likely to start again, while Hayden seems likely to play down our right-hand side once again, with Yedlin, Manquillo and Krafth out and Lazaro not eligible to play until next weekend.

In midfield, Shelvey will return and could be partnered by one of the Longstaff’s. Bentaleb has been declared fit to play, but he too seems more likely to make a late cameo from the bench after failing to play a senior game since last April.

In attack, Saint-Maximin and Almiron look set to start either side of Joelinton – with the latter our only fit striker now Carroll, Gayle and Muto are still injured and Atsu likely to be dropped after his anonymous display at Everton.

Predicted NUFC XI – (3-4-1-2): Dubravka – Schar, Lascelles, Clark – Atsu, Bentaleb, Shelvey, Ritchie – Almiron – Saint-Maximin, Joelinton).

The Opposition

Oxford United may be in the same league as our 3rd Round opponents Rochdale, but they’re performing much better in League One this season.

While Rochdale sit 18th and battle to avoid a drop down into League Two, Oxford sit 5th – one place above Sunderland – and in the mix to earn promotion to the Championship this summer.

Their recent form in all competitions has been as follows:

  • Gillingham 1-1 OXFORD
  • OXFORD 0-0 Ipswich
  • OXFORD 1-3 Rotherham
  • OXFORD 4-1 Hartlepool (FA Cup)
  • Doncaster 1-0 OXFORD

So, just one win in their last five – and that came in the last round of the FA Cup against a Hartlepool side in the fifth tier of English football.

One player to watch will be former England U-19 attacker and current top scorer James Henry, who has 11 goals and 5 assists for them this season.

Ex-QPR forward Jamie Mackie could also feature.

Team news

NUFC new boy Nabil Bentaleb is set to make his debut, but the club have confirmed that Valentino Lazaro will NOT be available – with him set to feature against Norwich next weekend after missing the deadline to play tomorrow.

Saint-Maximin and Shelvey look set to return, but Carroll, Lejeune, Dummett, Willems, Gayle, Muto, Manquillo, Yedlin, Ki and Krafth are all set to miss out.


It’ll be a packed out St James’ Park desperate for FA Cup success, so if the strong side Bruce picks are up for it and at it I can only see this one going one way.

We’re on a high after a big point at Wolves, hammering Rochdale, winning late vs Chelsea and rescuing an unbelievable point at Everton in midweek, so hopefully we arrive full of confidence but focused on the job in hand.

After several great results and a week that saw us secure two potentially brilliant signings in Bentaleb and Lazaro, a win here really would be the cherry on top!

Prediction: Newcastle 3-1 Oxford

(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.

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

  1. Does everybody have to pay for the FA Cup games, even season ticket holders? I am no fan of Ashley’s but a full house may give Toon for Change something to think about. Fatty has messed us all around in the past 13 years but there have been much worse than him. And he finally seems to be sticking to his word and letting the club spend what it makes. Totally self serving of course as he has seen what relegation does to his bottom line, but a welcome change. He knows now that it takes about 3 years to recover from relegation (if you immediately bounce back) so best not get relegated in the first place 🙂

    I understand that Toon for Change are long time supporters who are sick of Ashley and are voting with their feet. But for as long as I have supported NUFC it has usually been like this (short periods of keegan and Robson excepted). I can’t even read the comments in Ed’s or The Mag anymore because of all of the Moaning Minnies and negativity on there.

    I still think it is self defeating to organize protests outside the ground on matchdays. And I think it is totally hypocritical to boycott the home games and then act like the away fans should all get sainthoods.

    Ashley will leave/sell when he wants to sell and not before. This wallowing in self pity by Toon for Change and on blogs gets very old very quickly.

    I only wish our football under Brucie was a bit better.

    And the Lording of Rafa gets a bit painful as well. Bruce and him both play(ed) awful football and Rafa had enough time to stave off relegation anyway.


  2. I was probably the biggest critic of Pards and Ugly John on here so I don’t give the Fat Man a free pass. I just think Toon for Change and their supporters act like big babies sometimes.


  3. There. I said what I have to say. Olly gives the soapbox to Toon for Change and maybe there should be a counterpoint sometimes. I know I am not always the most eloquent, but I am as passionate about NUFC as they are after 50 years of support and their moaning bores me.


  4. I see the Waddler is offering effusive praise to Steve Bruce, just like the rest of his pundit Pals. He is right to say that Brucie has done well to get us to the 30 points so far especially with the toxic atmosphere spread by Toon for Change and the like after Rafa left. That false takeover didn’t help either. However, you must always add the caveat that we are playing shyte football and have been very lucky. I will go along with the opinion that Bruce has done better than expected but in all of the statistical measures we really should be bottom of the league.

    Hopefully, these new players will see us playing a more attacking style of football and hopefully we will sign a striker. We have the money, because we haven’t spent any and supposedly there was 30 million left in the kitty from the summer. Waddle also praises Joelinton for his attitude and effort. I think I would hold off on that because he has shown nowhere near the skills of a 40 million pound player and so far has been a complete bust.

    If we continue to play 9 at the back it will catch up with us and then what will the Waddler say?


  5. Rafa offered hope at NUFC because of his record from about 10 years before he joined us. But he had been sacked by Inter, Napoli and Real Madrid before he joined us because of his boring football. Nothing changed with us and he helped relegate probably the most talented team ever to go down. But still he was a hero to some and they looked on it all with Rafa rose tinted glasses even after we had the worst start to a top flight season ever, playing football that is as bad as Brucie’s team is playing now.

    I might be willing to take Toon for Change more seriously if they didn’t spread the toxic word and were actually a bit more realistic about Rafa’s time at NUFC.

    Rafa almost “did a Moyes” when he was saying it would be a miracle if we stayed up and by extension was saying it would be HIS miracle. How were the players supposed to take that?

    I think Rafa did a decent job but nowhere near the job he or some of our supporters think he did. His record in the previous 10 years was that he was yesterday’s man and our football proved it.


  6. Look, I am not Richard Keys but I am also not Toon for Change. Rafa was somewhere between the Devil that Keys painted him and the God that the likes of Toon for Change said he was.


  7. It just gets funnier at Man U. This Haaland kid that they thought they would get simply because Solskjaer is Norwegian got a brace today. That is 5 goals in 2 sub appearances for Dortmund. Would have been a perfect replacement for Rashford who broke his back as OGS made him play on with an injury. I would be shocked if we even see Rashford at the Euros. Thanks Ole.


  8. On the basis that when results are bad we blame the manager I suppose Bruce should get credit when results are good but I have to be honest, I am really not too sure what Bruce has actually done. We play horrendous football, most of our goals come from set plays and are scored by defenders. I’m not sure that’s been Bruce’s plan.

    I could probably have done what Bruce has done. He needs to improve our style and performances. That’s when we will see if he’s doing a good job or not. My fear is that we will continue to play this turgid way because he and Jabba will see only survival as the main aim.


  9. Got my ticket. As for dropping Atsu I will believe it when it happens. Unfortunately I still think he will at least make the bench. Ideal opportunity to blood youngsters if we are comfortable enough. After all it is not Premiership opposition even if Oxford are quite a good side.


  10. Hope we stay free of injuries today, Eric that’s one thing you cannot deny that was better under Rafa.


  11. Have the takeover rumours reached peak rubbish yet? They could have today. Wall Street Journal reckon Amanda Staveley has set up a purchase with Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund… ?

    Now, I am still staggered that the Saudi’s aren’t involved in the PL and to me it would make perfect sense to buy Newcastle instead of spending £3b on Man Utd but then fact it would be good is reason to suggest its nonsense.

    Even though the Chronicle say the club have been in discussions with them for a while but also other groups too…


  12. Willems is saying he wants to play for NUFC again. I don’t see why not as his recovery time would be 6-8 months and that coincides with the start of next season. We would also have plenty of time to assess how his recovery is going and would not have to make a move until June at the earliest.


  13. Kimtoon: I just hate when people tell me what to do, that they are right and I am wrong if only I would see the light. Like some sort of Evangelist. They hide their message behind saying everybody can make up their own mind but they don’t really believe that. They believe that if you are not with them you are some sort of clown, not acting in the clubs’ best interests, not a true supporter.

    I see their words and their platitudes of them not telling people what to do before – TELLING PEOPLE WHAT TO DO. I turned completely against the protests when they were advocating marching on Charnley’s house in Jesmond. One person on another blog even gave out his address. Bringing Charnley’s wife and kids into it is just not cool in my book.

    But Heyho. If we start to play some decent football and stay up things might change. A near full house today shows not everybody is listening to the protest groups.


  14. So, lots and lots of stories on the Saudi takeover… ??. Hmmm maybe. I’ll believe it when they invite Mikey to the Embassy to sign a few papers. ?.

    This will not be an easy game today and definitely a potential banana skin, with them having that 3-0 win to their name a few years ago.


  15. DT: Are you referring to that American journalist who went to the Saudi Embassy in Turkey and got murdered?


  16. Didn’t i say the takeover crap would start up again when window opened . It will also likely be because attendances are down.
    So bloody predictable really.


  17. After the last takeover debacle I will not believe anything until it is done. There were made up stories and e-mails that were from dodgy sources. The papers knew something but sat on it. That included The Times, Luke Edwards and even Mark Douglas. They were making vague noises that something was not right for at least 3 weeks before the deal collapsed if there was ever a deal in the first place. They also were only making tangential points about Rafa leaving. They knew something and ether didn’t fully trust their sources or deliberately misled their readers by keeping information to themselves.

    Why should we trust them this time?

    And the way Rafa left is partly why my attitude to him is not one of undying love which it seems the blinkered lot at Toon for Change etc have. He left us in the lurch whatever his problems with Ashley were.


  18. This takeover is fake news. As Jabba said “when it hits the press it will be done and dusted”. I don’t doubt for a second that the Saudi’s will be interested but once they realise Jabba’s terms it will soon grind to a halt. Like the rest.


  19. This

    “The day someone buys Newcastle, they’ll do their due diligence – and finished. It will happen like Man City. By the time the media find out, it’s already complete.” Mike Ashley 26 July 2019


  20. Sh!te game so far – p!ss poor.

    Nee dominance, nee aggression nee nowt.

    It would be great having started a strong team if he sent them out to smash Oxford and give the fans something.

    More intensity in a Lpool training session I bet


  21. Absolute joke!!

    Credit to Oxford for getting the replay and extra money from that. But that should never have happened.

    The players want to hang their heads for that – but it will likely be Bruce that gets the stick.

    That was a strong side he put out though, and I really feel like when they cross that line there is a personal responsibility.

    Disgraceful imo.


  22. So Jabba not happy that the takeover talks have emerged in the press. I imagine it’s the Saudi’s leaking so if anybody else is trying to buy it they will back off if they know the Saudi’s are involved. In theory anyway.

    Personally if this doesn’t happen (which is unlikely) then I don’t think Jabba will ever sell. They can’t use the excuse of them of not having the cash.

    I expect lots of stories in tomorrow’s press.


  23. Quite interesting the journalists involved in the story for WsJ. One is the Middle East correspondent, one is the European Sports Editor and one is a reporter who is currently writing a book on Mohammed Bin Salman.


  24. Not happening Stu, it’s seriously starting to get on my wick that we get this c rap every bloomin window now. All it does is distracts from the fact that we have a totally unambitious owner and he has already stated the first we would know of a sale is an announcement it’s done.
    Add into this latest tripe that Stavely is supposed to be the one brokering it and you know for sure it’s rubbish. Jabba said himself he thought her a time waster and i don’t see him dealing with her again after the last debacle .

    As fans we are better off holding him and the club to account for the shoddy way they run our club imo.


  25. Kim – I have no doubt that the terms of any sale will be prohibitive for any buyer. But I do believe these guys have a real interest in the club. Why wouldn’t they? I’m quite curious as to what Jabba’s excuse will be this time. We’ve had they didn’t have the money” and we’ve had “they don’t have the money to take the club forward”. He can’t use any of these really but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did as he’s shameless


  26. Several stories say that there is real interest, but there are difficulties… one of them is a large rotund, ovoid tw.at that likes Mash and beer… ?


  27. https://www.theguardian.com/football/2020/jan/26/saudi-340m-takeover-newcastle-leak-threatens-deal

    This really makes me laugh. It’s like this Mike Ashley, the one who they paint as a man of principle would walk away from a profit of circa £110m just on the basis that the media have found out he’s negotiating with someone. ??

    He’s probably more pissed off that it’s public because it puts him under pressure and the supporters know people want to buy the club.


  28. Now the FT are reporting that the accountants that are responsible for Jabba’s retail business were informed weeks again that “Newcastle United will be disappearing from the book”. So sounds like Jabba’s own accountants are leaking info.

    What a farce.

    Oh and the deal could still collapse apparently. Shouldn’t that be “Will” collapse?


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