Newcastle travel to Ukraine on Thursday to face Metalist Kharkiv in the second-leg of their Europa League last–32 tie.
The sides drew 0-0 at St. James’ Park last Thursday and Newcastle will be confident of getting a result in the return leg.
Newcastle come into this game following a free weekend and will be ready for their Ukrainian opponents. The O-O draw between the sides last Thursday was the first time in 14 European games that Newcastle have failed to score at home, a record that dates back to 2004.
Newcastle have struggled in the Premier League this season and currently find themselves languishing in 16th place, just four points clear of the dreaded drop-zone. Newcastle are going through a dry patch in Europe, failing to win their last five European away games.
Metalist Kharkiv have only played one competitive game since their league season ended in January, and will have placed all their focus on tonight’s game.
They were lucky to come away with a precious goalless stalemate during the first leg, thanks to two contentious disallowed goals. This let-off will motivate the Ukrainians and they will be chomping at the bit from the opening whistle. Kharkiv are very strong at home and have only last at home once in their last eleven European games.
Newcastle will not risk playing Hatem Ben Arfa following his recovery from a hamstring injury, with Pardew keeping an eye on this weekend’s crunch Premier League game with Southampton. Pardew has also taken the decision to rest star full-back Davide Santon. Mathieu Debuchy and Yoan Gouffran remain ineligibly, but Dan Gosling is in the first team squad for the first time since October.
As Kharkiv are currently in their off-season, they have no suspensions or injuries to deal with.
Players to Watch
Moussa Sissoko has hit the ground running for Newcastle since his move from Toulouse in January. The box-to-box midfielder will have a huge part to play in Thursday’s tie. Papiss Cisse has struggled for form in the Europa League of late with just one goal, but he was cruelly denied twice in the opening leg by two contentious refereeing decisions and will look to set the record straight tonight.
Argentinian striker Jonathan Cristaldo spearheads the Metalist attack and has scored three goals in this year’s Europa League. He is a very dangerous attacker and will trouble the Newcastle defence.
Newcastle were superior in the first-leg, but Metallist are a formidable side at home. Take the draw at 5/2 with Boylesports.com