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Previewing the UnPreviewable: Newcastle United vs. Oxford

Newcastle United Training Session
is it debut time for this man?
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Newcastle United are gearing up to host League 1 side Oxford United F.C tomorrow at a sold-out St. James Park. The hosts are brimming with confidence after a win against Chelsea, an inspiring comeback against Everton and 2 new signings this week. Meanwhile Oxford have struggled since the new year began and are trying to bounce back amidst a sea of injuries.

Newcastle currently sit in 13th with 30 points thus far, 7 above the relegation zone and only 4 points off of 5th place. Meanwhile Oxford are sitting in 5th in League 1, above Sunderland, and in a playoff position hoping to gain promotion.

Recent Form

Newcastle are now unbeaten in their last 5 and have not lost since January 2nd. That stat is a bit misleading as the Magpies have played Rochdale twice, a team Newcastle were expected to beat given their position in the League 1 table. However, their results against Everton, Wolves and Chelsea are nothing to snuff at.

Oxford have not won a league match this calendar year. They were able to beat Hartlepool United, a National league side in the FA Cup, in order to face Newcastle,. But, that win is the only win of the year thus far for the U’s. Oxford have failed to score more than one goal in a league match since 2020 began and have 2 losses in 4 league matches.

Each teams last 5 results are below.

Newcastle (DWWDD)

Everton 2-2 Newcastle

Newcastle 1-0 Chelsea

Newcastle 4-1 Rochdale

Wolves 1-1 Newcastle

Rochdale 1-1 Newcastle

Oxford (DDLWL)

Gillingham 1-1 Oxford

Oxford 0-0 Ipswich

Oxford 1-3 Rotheram

Oxford 4-1 Hartlepool

Doncaster 1-0 Oxford

What do Newcastle have to do to win?

It’s another League 1 Side. Don’t get cute, and control the match. It worked against Rochdale in the 4-1 win and there is no reason Newcastle can’t do the same against an out of form Oxford side.

What was beautiful about the Rochdale home match was that Newcastle scored early and often, which sucked the confidence out of Rochdale and put the match to bed early on. If Newcastle can replicate that, they should be able to easily see this one out.

Players to Watch

For Newcastle, the biggest name to watch will be Nabil Bentaleb. It’s a no brainer as the Algerian international is likely going to make his debut against Oxford.

Bentaleb was brought in from Schalke on a loan to buy deal and has not played a league match since April of 2019. The midfielder is healthy and starving for an opportunity to prove himself after being frozen out of the Bundesliga oufit’s first team.

The focus for Newcastle fans should be on how Bentaleb plays, and as fans we should pay attention to how he fits in with our current side. Fans should not expect to see a brilliant performance from him in his first competitive match, but flashes of what he can bring to Newcastle will definitely surface.

Oxford United v West Ham United - Carabao Cup - Third Round - Kassam Stadium
Fosu has been a goal scoring machine this season
Photo by Steven Paston/PA Images via Getty Images

Oxford have a beast of a winger in Tarique Fosu, who leads all of their attackers in goals scored this season with 8. He will certainly be a focal point for Newcastle as he will likely be going up against a makeshift Right Wingback in Isaac Hayden for DeAndre Yedlin, who is returning from injury.

Additionally Shandon Baptiste, the 21 year old midfielder for Oxford, has been a beast for the U’s this season and has scored against opposition of all levels. Baptiste has attracted the attention of some bigger clubs as well, and seems to be a promising midfielder. His physicality could give some Newcastle midfielders trouble, but I fully expect Newcastle to be able to deal with him.

Injuries... of which there are many

Newcastle are obviously going to be without Jetro Willems and Paul Dummett for the remainder of the season.

For this match Newcastle will be without Dwight Gayle, Javier Maquillo, Andy Carroll, Yoshinori Muto, and Ki Sung-yeung.

Florian Lejeune picked up a hamstring injury while scoring during the Everton match. From the Everton match, Joelinton also dealt with an injury but will likely be available for squad selection due to all of our other forwards being injured and has been training with the team.

Jonjo Shelvey was not fit enough to play extended minutes against Everton and it is unclear whether or not he is back to full strength.

Allan Saint-Maximin is now fully fit, and DeAndre Yedlin is healthy enough to return to the team. Newcastle will be boosted with the addition of Nabil Bentaleb to the team as all of his paperwork has been completed and he has been deemed eligible to play. Unfortunately, the paperwork from Lazaro’s agent and Inter Milan arrived too late for him to make his debut for Newcastle this match.

For the Yellows Malachi Napa, Anthony Forde, Matty Taylor and James Henry are all definitely out. One of Oxford’s better players Cameron Brannagan is doubtful after picking up a knee injury, and the status of Jamie Hanson is uncertain as he still recovering from a string of hamstring injuries.

One Bold Prediction

Tom Allan will start.

In these cup matches Newcastle have started a first team regular such as Miguel Almiron alongside Christian Atsu. With Atsu having an awful match against Everton, and Steve Bruce wanting to give the youth team players a chance I would not be surprised if Tom Allan gets the start here. He played well at the end of the Rochdale match, nabbing an assist, and would likely not struggle against another League 1 side. Additionally starting him alongside Saint-Maximin would allow for Almiron to get some much needed rest.

Newcastle United v Rochdale AFC - FA Cup Third Round: Replay
Allan had a solid first team debut in the Rochdale win.
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

One Not So Bold Prediction

Christian Atsu will almost score.

You guys know the drill. It is his God-given duty, and in an FA cup where if he plays, he will see a lot of the ball I expect him to hit the crossbar twice.

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.

Oxford are the second or third most important thing in their city, the college there is essentially a boring Hogwarts, with less than impressive food options. Their manager is an odd looking fellow, their kits look like neon colored piss andddddddddddddddd they have some of the worst nicknames in all of football. The U’s (yuck) and the Yellows inspire the exact opposite of confidence.

The clout for this club can only be saved by one man, and one man alone Olly the Ox. This mascot for Oxford is actually dope because he is one of the only mascot who one, has a girlfriend and two has tried to fight other mascots (I am assuming based on the image below). I love Olly, and he gives me hope that there is a drop of clout at Oxford.

Coventry City v Oxford United - Sky Bet League One
I am assuming what happened after this photo was an all out brawl.
Photo by James Williamson - AMA/Getty Images

Clout Rating: 7 self Improvement Books, an ounce of pulled pork, and 2 wool blazers

Projected Lineups

Newcastle are likely going to rest either Miguel Almiron or Allan Saint-Maximin. If they both start, I would imagine one would come off fairly early for Tom Allan to get extended minutes. There is no sense in starting them both for a match when they are both not needed in order to win. I think Tom Allan could get his first start, and has a chance to make an impact in this match. Nabil Bentaleb is likely going to make his debut. He’s match fit and I would imagine that he is going to start this match. Yedlin will also likely be an addition to the starting lineup as he is fully fit.

For Oxford, I would imagine they will roll out a similar lineup to who they started against Gillingham.

Newcastle Projected Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Schar, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie; Allan, Hayden, Bentaleb, Saint-Maximin; Joelinton

Oxford Projected Lineup (4-3-3): Eastwood; Long, Dickie, Mousinho, Ruffels; Baptiste, Gorrin, Sykes; Fosu, Mackie, Holland;

One Random Fact to Say at the Bar

Newcastle last hosted Oxford for a match in May of 1993 in the Championship. Newcastle won 2—1 with goals from Lee Clark and Andy Cole.

Elijah’s Never Wrong Prediction

Newcastle are beat up, but so is Oxford. Oxford need something positive to get their season back on track after an abysmal start to the new year while Newcastle are paying with a ton of confidence and have the belief that they can actually make an FA Cup run.

Oxford are struggling to create chances against League One opponents so far, and have not scored more than one goal in each of their league matches so far this season. I doubt they will be able to score multiple goals at St. James against a Premier League Defense, but stranger things have occurred.

If this were an away match I would give Oxford a chance for an upset. However, I think Newcastle get it done at home in front of a sold out St. James Park.

Newcastle win 3-0

Match Facts and Where to Watch

Date: Saturday, 25 January 2020

Kick-off: 10:00 AM EST, 3:00 PM GMT

Venue: St. James’ Park

Match Coverage: ESPN+ (USA), BBC Radio (NUFC.com)

Referee: Robert Jones