Preview: Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Newcastle United

Magpies manager Alan Pardew sits in the dugout during the game with Norwich on January 12, 2013
© PA Photos
Sports Mole previews Thursday's Europa League last-16 clash between Anzhi Makhachkala and Newcastle United.

Newcastle United will attempt to gain an advantage in the first leg of their last-16 Europa League tie with Anzhi Makhachkala when they travel to Russia on Thursday.

Anzhi were winners over Hannover in the previous round to advance to this stage of the competition, while Newcastle overcame Metalist Kharkiv 1-0 on aggregate last month.

The home side have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions, but they sit second in their domestic table, two points behind leaders CSKA Moscow.

They faced English opposition in the shape of Liverpool in the group stages of the competition, but they were beaten at Anfield before recording a 1-0 win in Russia.

Newcastle, meanwhile, have won two of their last five matches in all competitions. Despite finishing fifth in the Premier League last season, they have struggled this campaign, currently occupying 15th position in the table.

The home side could continue with the same side that drew with Hannover in the previous round, with Willian expected to join Samuel Eto'o in attack. Meanwhile, Lassana Diarra should also start in midfield.

Newcastle will be without the services of first-choice goalkeeper Tim Krul, meaning that Rob Elliot will continue between the sticks. Davide Santon has shaken off a muscular injury, meanwhile, and should also start.

Recent form:

Anzhi: LDDWL
Newcastle: LDWWL

Possible lineups:

Anzhi: Gabulov; Eschenko, Chaves, Logashov, Ewerton; Boussoufa, Jucilei, Akhmedov, Diarra; Willian, Eto'o

Newcastle: Elliot; Santon, Taylor, Perch, Debuchy; Cabaye, Sissoko, Tiote; Jonas, Cisse, Gouffran

Sports Mole says: 3-1

Willian
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