How Newcastle United Will Line Up Against Norwich City
With no fresh injury problems hampering his team selection, Toon manager Alan Pardew is expected to name a full strength line-up on Saturday, which could mean a recall for captain Fabricio Coloccini.
So as domestic football makes a welcome return, we look at Pardew’s likely starting XI.
Goalkeeper: Tim Krul
Tim Krul made headlines around the world after his incredible display at Tottenham Hotspur last time out and his name will be the first on Alan Pardew’s team sheet this weekend.
The Dutch international’s reputation jumped up several notches following his record-breaking shift at White Hart Lane, where he made no fewer than 14 saves to deny Spurs.
As reported by Mirror Sport’s Darren Lewis, his world-class performance in North London was the highlight of his career.
And if he’s half as good against Norwich City on Saturday, the visitors will have real trouble getting anything past the 25-year-old.
Full-Backs: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Davide Santon
The only change Alan Pardew must ponder for the visit of Norwich City is at right-back, where Mathieu Debuchy is suspended after picking up five yellow cards this term.
While both Steven Taylor and Vurnon Anita have filled that position in the past, the Toon boss could turn to the versatile Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to replace the French international.
On the left, Davide Santon is expected to continue in his favoured position, despite pressure from the likes of Paul Dummett and Massadio Haidara.
However, Pardew may be tempted to tinker with the right-footed Italian, so don’t be surprised to see him crop up on the opposite flank.
Centre-Backs: Fabricio Coloccini and Mike Williamson
With Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa switched to full-back, the way is clear for Fabricio Coloccini to return to Newcastle United’s back four after seven weeks out of the picture.
His return is timely given Debuchy’s suspension, and with Steven Taylor also returning to full fitness, Alan Pardew will soon have some big decisions to make defensively.
Alongside the Magpies’ skipper, Mike Williamson will continue after an excellent run of form that has seen the centre-back become a vital figure over the past few weeks.
Central Midfielders: Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote
Both Yohan Cabaye and Cheick Tiote have reasons to be cheerful this week, with their respective countries confirming their places at the World Cup finals in Brazil next year.
Cabaye played a pivotal role in France’s remarkable play-off comeback from two goals down against Ukraine, while Tiote’s Ivory Coast qualified at Senegal’s expense.
The Toon faithful will be hoping they bring their optimism and high spirits to the Magpies’ midfield this Saturday, and if they do, Norwich could be in for a rough ride.
Wide Midfielders: Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran
Though Moussa Sissoko and Yoan Gouffran are not technically wingers, it’s hard to see Alan Pardew changing a winning team, meaning another run out for the pair in wide areas.
Gouffran’s determined work ethic has won him an army of fans this season, and though Sissoko has struggled at times, his strength has been vital in Newcastle’s last few performances.
With Jonas Gutierrez returning to full training this week, and Hatem Ben Arfa eager to get his season back on track, there is now genuine competition for places on the flanks.
And while at least one of the above will be involved at some stage over the weekend, it will almost certainly be from the bench.
Centre-Forwards: Loic Remy and Shola Ameobi
Another player on a high this week after the international break is Shola Ameobi, whose dream of playing at the World Cup could finally come true following Nigeria’s qualification.
The big striker scored a fine goal for the Super Eagles in a friendly with Italy on Monday and his confidence will be sky high for the visit of Norwich City, meaning no place for Papiss Cisse.
With seven goals in seven Premier League games, prolific forward Loic Remy will be hoping to add to his impressive tally alongside Ameobi.
The Frenchman is one of many with an eye on Brazil next summer and his form over the next six months could seal his place on the biggest stage of all.