Newcastle United pre-match latest: Including Benfica preview and Ben Arfa

A round-up of news and views relating to Newcastle United.

Alan Pardew has told his Newcastle United players that they will need to be as good as Barcelona to beat Benfica by the two goals needed to progress in the Europa League. Only the Catalan side have beaten Benfica by this margin in Europe this season, but Pardew also said that late drama in matches around Europa this week has given Newcastle hope:

“If ever there was a week to underline that a game is never over, it’s this one, with our goal against Fulham, the late equaliser at Wigan and then the two goals at Dortmund.

“It has given us a real sense of belief.”

Benfica coach Jorge Jesus has warned his side against complacency in the match despite their 3-1 advantage, and says that Newcastle are a better team than their lowly position in the Premier League suggests.

Newcastle will be without Steven Taylor, Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini and Cheick Tiote, and Alan Pardew also has to decide whether to start Papiss Cisse ahead of a crucial Tyne-Wear derby on Sunday. Cisse has scored late winners for his team in their last three home games, but Pardew admits he has to manage his star striker carefully.

Cisse himself has said that this is a massive week for Newcastle, and that the important matches against Benfica and Sunderland are the kind of games every professional wants to be involved in. The Senegalese striker also paid tribute to the St James’ crowd.

One man who will be involved on Thursday is Hatem Ben Arfa, with Alan Pardew saying the winger had made an unbelievable recovery. The Newcastle manager is hoping a Ben Arfa cameo could turn the tie in his side’s favour, but on HITC this week, Lewis Doe argues that the Frenchman’s return could actually hamper the Magpies in the long term.

Also on HITC this week we look at whether Yoann Gouffran should play in a more central role for the team, and ask if Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri would have been sacked if they were playing for Newcastle rather than Manchester City,

Paolo Di Canio has revealed that he and Alan Pardew have been in touch ahead of the derby this weekend, and said that both managers have shown similar passion for their clubs. Di Canio also said that Pardew had wished him luck for his time at Sunderland, although not this weekend.

image: © Crystian Cruz

Register for NEWCASTLE UNITED team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch