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Previewing the Unpreviewable: Newcastle United vs. Rochdale

Newcastle United Training Session
the south american trio that actually played pretty well this past match
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

After a gutsy draw away at Wolves this past weekend, Newcastle are set to take place in an FA Cup Replay against League 1 Side Rochdale Association Football Club. If Newcastle were to win they would host another League 1 Side, Oxford United.

The emphasis is on “if” because a win against Rochdale is far from certain which is why we even have a replay to begin with.

Newcastle should not be taken off guard with how dangerous Rochdale can be, having experienced firsthand, However, Rochdale will likely be brimming with confidence as the last match proved that they could hang with Newcastle, who played a fairly strong team.

Newcastle sit in 13th after this past weekend’s draw with Wolves on 26 points, which leaves them 5 points clear from the relegation zone. Rochdale are on 28 points in League 1 after their Win against Bolton Wanderers. This leaves them in 18th with 6 points between them and the relegation zone.

Recent Form

In terms of form not much has changed for each team. You could argue both teams responded positively after the F.A. Cup tie, and are more confident going into this match than they were going into the first matchup between the two teams.

Newcastle just drew to a superior Wolves team, in a match where the best player in the match was Miguel Almiron, and not Adama Traore, who has been one of the best players in the Premier League this season.

Rochdale are coming off of a win against Bolton Wanderers in which their young player Luke Matheson once again was brilliant. Matheson scored in the match and had the highest player rating of any player.

The last 5 results for each team are below

Rochdale (WDWLL)

Rochdale 2-0 Bolton

Rochdale 1-1 Newcastle

Accrington Stanley 1-2 Rochdale

Gillingham 1-0 Rochdale

Rochdale 2-3 Fleetwood Town (

Newcastle (DDLLL)

Wolves 1-1 Newcastle

Rochdale 1-1 Newcastle

Newcastle 0-3 Leicester

Newcastle 1-2 Everton

Manchester United 4-1 Newcastle

Newcastle 1-0 Crystal Palace

What Do Newcastle have to do to win?




I mean I sound like a broken record, but literally this is a League 1 side. The match should not be close. You should be able to attack at ease and put this match to bed in the first half.

To Newcastle’s credit, in the previous matchup against Rochdale, Newcastle were able to do this for one half. Not converting chances bit them in the butt as they could have scored 4 goals in the first half and would have been able to coast in the second half.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Premier League
Almiron will be key in helping Newcastle dictate this match
Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Newcastle know they have to do dictate the match, and they are aware that they must be clinical in the final 3rd if they want a shot at beating Rochdale.

Newcastle, hopefully should see this out because the talent level of Rochdale is just far worse than Newcastle’s injury riddled team. If the team fail to win, many questions will be asked of Steve Bruce.

Players to Watch

If Joelinton plays for Newcastle he is the player in my opinion with the most to gain from this match. This could be a bit of a redemption for his lackluster performance against Rochdale earlier in the year.

Joelinton had a decent outing against Wolves and payed through a groin injury. This took the heat off of him temporarily, but scoring goals is arguably a more effective way to get fans to forget tat you are an expensive striker who has not scored a lot of goals.

Again, this matchup on paper should be an opportunity for Joelinton to dominate. Unfortunately, that means this sis another match that could absolutely tank the confidence of the young Brazilian.

Luke Matheson has been en fuego for Rochdale and is probably going to be the most dangerous player in this match for them.

Rochdale AFC v Newcastle United - FA Cup Third Round
weight room
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

In the previous match between the two clubs Matheson was the difference maker that neutralized the Newcastle attack, as well as kickstarted the Rochdale attack. Matheson ended that match with an assist to his name and praise from both sets of managers,

Matheson followed up that performance with a brilliant match against Bolton where his aggressive play led to 4 chances being created by him and a goal.

At only 17 years of age, Matheson is showing some great composure and could find his way into a Premier League side in the next couple of years.

Injuries... Of which there are many

As previously mentioned, Joelinton is dealing with a groin injury at the moment, but Steve Bruce is hopeful he can be fit enough to lead the line. Allan Saint-Maximin is shooting to return to first team action this weekend against Chelsea, and I doubt we will see him in this match.

Jonjo Shelvey and Fabian Schar, like St. Gucci Max have returned to training but are not available for this match. Muto, Ki, and Manquillo are all still out and are nursing injuries.

Paul Dummett and Dwight Gayle picked up injuries against Wolves, and took some scans today. They are not likely going to return against Rochdale.

Additionally, Liam Gibson and Rolando Aarons returned to Newcastle following loan spells and are unfortunately cup tied.

Bruce was hopeful that he could reinsert Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie into the Starting Lineup.

Rochdale are entering this match with a fully fit side.

One Bold Prediction

Matt Ritchie plays 90 minutes.

Matt Ritchie is the workhorse of this team. He works his butt off every time he steps on the pitch and brings a level of intensity to the team that is much needed. Ritchie has just returned to action, and after a match where he could rest I could see Bruce putting him in the lineup to ensure that his side plays with a high level of intensity the whole match.

One Not So Bold Prediction

Christian Atsu will almost score.

If you have watched Atsu, you know he is bound to nearly score once again. I really hope this chance is a beaut. I want a curled in shot from 30 yards out to hit the crossbar and not go over the line.

The Elijah Newsome Clout Rating

If you missed the explanation for this revolutionary system an explanation can be found here. If you don’t want to read more than 3 sentences about the word “clout”, just know my Clout rating is a rating based on a club’s swag, influence and relevance.

Not much has changed for my clout rating as it regards to Rochdale. They are still a very boring club.

Luke Matheson has a lot of swag and great hair, but outside of him the team is just a bucnh of English bros who can’t dress.

One huge thing in Rochdale’s favor is that I love their manager Brian Barry-Murphy. His name is fun to say and he deffo has some swag. He also is very aggressive as a manger tactically and I love that because that is how I play FIFA.

Because of the FA Cup draw I was also made aware of Rochdale’s mascot “Desmond the Dragon”.

This guy is an absolute legend, and probably gets all the dragon babes.

Look at this photo of him and Luke Matheson. It is literally perfect. Two gorgeous creatures side by side blessing us with this image.

Rochdale AFC v Newcastle United - FA Cup Third Round
desmond the dragon. our king
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

The funniest thing about Desmond is that he just does not look like a dragon. That actually might even be the best thing about Desmond.

Clout Rating: 6.5 Churros


Rochdale will probably roll out the same lineup that got them a victory against Bolton, because well... it worked.

Newcastle picked up two injuries over the weekend, and are looking to get some guys back into the first team who were injured. Bruce said in his press conference that he was looking to play Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles, which makes sense. Both are veteran players that can add an added level of importance to this match.

Newcastle United Training Session
It looks like “Big Jamaal” might return to the lineup
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Predicted Rochdale Lineup (4-4-2): Sánchez; Matheson, Williams, O’Connell, Keohane; , Ryan; Dooley, Camps, Baah; Wilbraham, Henderson.

Predicted Newcastle Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernández, Clark, Ritchie; S Longstaff, M Longstaff, Almirón, Atsu, Joelinton.

One Random Fact to Say at the Bar

Newcastle have lost just one of their last 27 FA Cup Home matches against side from a lower division (W21 D5). The lost 1-5 to Birmingham in 2007 in a 3rd round replay.

Elijah’s Never Wrong Prediction

Newcastle must win this match. If they don’t the supporters will turn on them. The players know how important it is for them to win, Steve Bruce knows how important it is for them to win, hell even the ball boys know how important it is for them to win.

Newcastle bury Rochdale in the first and play the youngsters. 3-0 win for Newcastle and another goal for Miguel Almiron

Match Facts and Where to Watch

Date: Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Kick-off: 2:45 PM EST, 7:45 PM GMT

Venue: St. James’ Park

TV coverage: ESPN + (US)

Referee: Graham Scott