Alan Pardew says Newcastle United are in Europa League to win it

If Alan Pardew were a betting man, he would back an English team to win this season's Europa League.

"Outside of Manchester United, the Premier League has not been the same standard as last year and that's been reflected by Champions League performances," said Newcastle United's manager. "But our three teams left in the Europa League – Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle – are all strong, all capable of winning it."

Newcastle, without a trophy since 1969 – when they lifted the old Fairs Cup – are desperate to collect some silverware and Pardew believes that, provided they see off Guus Hiddink's expensively assembled Anzhi Makhachkala, this can be their season.

"We're in it to win it," he said. Yet with the tie poised at 0-0 from last week's first leg in Moscow, Thursday night's Russian visitors know that a score draw would allow them to reach the quarter-finals on away goals.

"We're in a great position, 0-0 is not precarious," countered Pardew. "We need to win but Anzhi lost 1-0 at Liverpool last autumn and this match will be tough for them. I've looked at the other teams left in the Europa League and I believe we can win it. I really do. We've got enough quality."

His good friend Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool's manager, has offered a few tips. "I spoke to Brendan about the two fixtures they had against them and we've studied and analysed Anzhi's games, so we know all we need to know about them. They've got one of the best managers from the last three decades and we've a tough agenda. But we're going into it on the back of three home wins.

"Anzhi have real quality. Jucilei is outstanding – he sits in front of the back four. Then there's Samuel Eto'o and Willian up front who will cause us trouble. Anzhi are pacey and a threat on the counterattack. They can also take the sting out of games but we're in form and our crowd can make it very difficult for them. Brendan was complimentary about Anzhi and he came up with a couple of warnings but he also had a couple of ideas he felt we could benefit from."

Hiddink will be relieved that a slight setback in Hatem Ben Arfa's recovery from a long-term hamstring injury means he will not be involved. "We're having a specialist look at it; we don't want to take any risks," said Pardew. "But the alarm bells aren't ringing. We can beat Anzhi without Hatem."

Shola Ameobi faces a late fitness test on an ankle injury before potentially making his 50th European appearance for Newcastle, which would eclipse Alan Shearer's tally of 49.

"Shola's immensely important to us," said Pardew. "He's a fabulous footballer and a fabulous person and we're very lucky to have him."

Newcastle United (probable, 4-2-3-1): Elliot; Simpson, S Taylor, Yanga-Mbiwa, Santon; Tioté, Cabaye; Marveaux, Sissoko, Gutiérrez; Cissé.

Anzhi Makhachkala (probable, 4-1-3-2): V Gabulov; Yeschenko, João Carlos, Ewerton, Zhirkov; Jucilei; Diarra, Ahmedov, Shatov; Eto'o, Willian.

Powered by article was written by Louise Taylor, for on Thursday 14th March 2013 00.29 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010


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