Alan Pardew turns focus to Stoke City amid Newcastle's Europa League exploits
Newcastle drew 0-0 with Anzhi Makhachkala
Friday 08 March 2013
Newcastle boss Alan Pardew is hoping to go into next week's Europa League showdown with Anzhi Makhachkala having safely banked three more Barclays Premier League points.
The Magpies arrived back on Tyneside during the early hours of this morning with a 0-0 first leg draw under their belts after turning in a well-organised and stubborn display at the Luzhniki Stadium to frustrate Guus Hiddink's men.
However, before they start to consider the possibility of booking a place in a European quarter-final, Pardew will focus fully on Sunday's league clash with Stoke at St James' Park.
He will do so having seen his January spending mission pay dividends once again in Russia with newcomers Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara among the star performers.
Pardew said: "We are so much stronger in depth, I think that's evident. Massadio and Mapou really and truly are pushing for first team places, and they proved that tonight.
"(Sylvain) Marveaux is beginning to push as well, and that's what you want, you want your best players pushed.
"I am hoping our team will be stronger on Thursday in the return, but I have got to get a result against Stoke and I have got to get a positive result to give me the freedom to do that.
"I don't really want to go to Wigan on the back of a defeat by Stoke."
Mathieu Debuchy, Davide Santon, Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote, Jonas Gutierrez, Yoan Gouffran and Papiss Cisse are likely to return to the starting line-up at the weekend, but with skipper Fabricio Coloccini out for up to seven weeks with a back problem, Yanga-Mbiwa is likely to continue in central defence.
His form since his arrival from Montpellier has been almost as impressive as that of Toulouse midfielder Moussa Sissoko, and Pardew was delighted with his contribution in Moscow.
He said: "I thought he was the outstanding player on the night. He is so quick over the ground and strong. He won't let strikers get it comfortably. He was probably our stand-out player.
"It's an intriguing tie now because if you are going to go through in Europe, you have got to win, so the emphasis for us on Thursday is to win.
"But we have set that up nicely at St James' Park and I am looking forward to the second leg because there are some outstanding players in both teams."
Keeper Rob Elliot had only two saves to make, both from Samuel Eto'o, in a game of few chances, but arguably the best of them fell to Hatem Ben Arfa, playing as a lone frontman on his return from injury, although the Frenchman could not take it.
Hiddink did not attend the post-match press conference because of illness, but assistant Zeljko Petrovic was philosophical.
He said: "If a team like Newcastle comes here and they play defensively like today, that means they respect the team and that's also a plus point and a good image for our club.
"We are not disappointed because we played against a big club with a huge history and great players, and I hope both teams play much better games in England."
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