Newcastle United will host French side Girondins Bordeaux in the two teams' second game of the UEFA Europa League. The Magpies were held to a 0-0 draw in the first game, away to Portuguese side Maritimo, while the Ligue 1 club had a more profitable encounter, hammering Belgians Club Brugge 4-0 at home.
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The Magpies started the season on the right note, beating Tottenham 2-1, at home, on the Premier League's opening day. Unfortunately, since then Alan Pardew's men have been in something of a slump. Newcastle have won just once in their last six games. They may have lost only once in that stretch but Pardew will be aware it is not good enough for a side that was challenging for Champions League football through most of last season. In addition, the awarding of an eight-year contract to the 51 year old Englishman means he now has to justify owner Mike Ashley's faith and deliver winning results.
Newcastle will go into this game after only just salvaging a 2-2 draw at Reading at the weekend. The Madejski Stadium team were on course to their first league win of the season, after goals from Jimmy Kebe and Noel Hunt but want-away Senegalese striker netted a late goal, his second of the game, to steal a point. The result dropped the side to 10th, with nine points from six games. The club's last game in Europe - the 0-0 draw at Maritimo - was equally disappointing. This was a game they should have won, particularly since the Portuguese side is, theoretically, the weakest team in the group. They can, however, draw from what was a strong performance.
Bordeaux have been only marginally better than their visitors. The French club is unbeaten this season but tends to have a Jekyll and Hyde sort of personality. They've played 10 games so far this season but apart from the first two games (in August) have yet to win twice on the trot. The three games they've played in Europe this season tells a different story, though. They beat Crvena Zvezda 3-2, on aggregate in the qualifying rounds, and cruised to a very comfortable win against Brugge in the first group match, with goals from Ludovic Sane, Yoan Gouffran and Ferreira Jussie (and an own goal by Bjorn Engels). In addition, the hosts will carry confidence from a 2-0 away win over Olympique Lyon from the weekend. Bordeaux are presently fifth in Ligue 1, with 13 points from seven games.
Incidentally, this game will see French midfielder Gabriel Obertan turn out against his former club. The winger transferred from Bordeaux to United in 2009, where he spent two unsuccessful years before arriving at St James' Park last season.
- Last five (most recent first): D L W D D
- Last result: Reading 2 - 2 Newcastle
- Last five (most recent first): W D W D D
- Last result: Lyon 0 - 2 Bordeaux
Pardew is likely to make a number of changes, yet again, with one eye on the visit of Manchester United on 7 October. The Red Devils beat Newcastle 2-1, at Old Trafford, to dump the Magpies out of the Capital One Cup and a measure of revenge will certainly be in Newcastle's collective consciousness. However, Pardew has commented he intends to take this competition as seriously as he can, suggesting a sprinkling of first team regulars will join youngsters against the French.
The hosts have something of a defensive crisis. Captain Fabricio Coloccini is ruled out after an injury in the game against United, while Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul is still unavailable. Central defender Steven Taylor is another who is unlikely to feature against Bordeaux... or indeed even against United. The good news for Pardew is former United youngster Danny Simpson is back and fit again. The better news is French midfielder Yohan Cabaye is also ready to play, after recovering from a mouth infection. Meanwhile, Cabaye's compatriot, Hatem ben Arfa, has completed his suspension and will probably slot straight into a Newcastle side looking for creative inspiration.
Up front, both Senegalese stars, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba are set to start and if the two can re-create the magic from last season, scoring goals will be the least of Pardew's problems.
Probable Line-Up: Harper; Simpson, Williamson, Perch, Santon; Cabaye, Tiote, Ben Arfa, Obertan; Ba, Cisse
Bordeaux will be without midfielders Gregory Sertic and Nicolas Maurice-Belay. In addition, Landry N'Guemo and Fahid ben Khalfallah are also unlikely to play, although the pair may be fit enough to face a late fitness test and maybe a place on the bench.
Probable Line-Up: Carrasso; Chalme, Planus, Henrique; Sane; Saivet, Obraniak, Plasil, Marange; Gouffran, Jussie
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