Newcastle United vs Huddersfield Town: Sissoko in squad as Toon search for first win

Rafael Benitez’s men opened up their Championship campaign with a defeat at Fulham last weekend

Newcastle United vs Huddersfield Town: Sissoko in squad as Toon search for first win
2009 was the last time the two sides met in a competitive competition. (Photo: examiner)

Newcastle United will go in-search of their first win of the season when they welcome Huddersfield Town to St James’ Park on Saturday, with want-away Moussa Sissoko at their disposal.

The Magpies go into the game as the overwhelming favourites to pick up maximum points against the Terriers.

The 52,000 sell-out crowd will be expecting to open up their home campaign with three points as they look to make their home patch a fortress for the upcoming season. In United’s last Championship outing, Chris Hughton’s side remained unbeaten on Tyneside.

It will be important for the Magpies to secure a win to silence any doubters who are questioning Newcastle’s capabilities following their 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage.

Last week’s new signing in Mohamed Diame and Ciaran Clark are likely to come straight into the squad after they were left out against the Cottagers.

But the big news coming out of Rafael Benitez’ pre-match press conference is that Sissoko is in the squad for the game against Huddersfield.

Benitez’ pre-match comments – Sissoko in squad

Friday’s press conference was surrounded by questions surrounding Sissoko’s situation on Tyneside and Benitez showed him and Newcastle were no push-overs by confirming that the want-away Frenchman is in the squad for the Championship tie. 

Benitez has made it clear that Newcastle will not give into the Frenchman's demands (Photo: kulaad.com)
Benitez has made it clear that Newcastle will not give into the Frenchman's demands (Photo: kulaad.com)

Benitez had a strong message on the 26-year-old’s future: “If someone is waiting to do a deal on August 30 then they have no chance because we don’t want to sell.

“If someone comes in with the right offer then we will consider, but if it’s not the right offer, we are pleased to keep him here.

“Moussa is someone we like as an individual and as a player.” 

However, the 56-year-old did say that a final decision on Sissoko’s participation will be concluded tomorrow: “He’s on the list for tomorrow and after that, we will decide if he’s fine or not.”

On the game as a whole, Benitez stated that his side knows they “have to improve” and “every time we have to be little better and we have to approach games with confidence.”

The Spaniard also spoke of the importance of the 52,000 sell-out crowd tomorrow afternoon: “To see 52,000 fans fans shows how important the club is for them” revealing that “the players and everyone will give everything.”

Despite Huddersfield being tipped for relegation, Benitez says that the Terriers will not be an easy test by telling that he and his side understand that “every game will be difficult” but they “have to adapt” to the situation.

Past meetings against Huddersfield

The last competitive meeting between the two sides came in a second round EFL Cup tie back in 2009. The North East club ran out 4-3 winners in an empathic seven goal thriller at St James’ Park.  The Magpies were 3-1 down at one stage but completed a gripping comeback thanks to a Kevin Nolan strike.

The two club’s then contested a friendly in 2014 at the John Smith’s Stadium with the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Championship opening weekend - joy for the Terriers 

The Magpies will be hoping to emulate what the Terriers done last week and that is by picking up their first win as they David Wagner’s men conquered in a 2-1 victory against Brentford.

Disappointingly for Huddersfield, they couldn’t continue the momentum gained from the opening weekend win as they fell to an EFL Cup upset at Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday.

Toon Army's expected line-up

Benitez looks set to ring the changes after last week’s performance lacked any real kind of creativity.

Matz Sels will proceed in goal after a quiet debut despite conceding to Matt Smith’s winner.

Right-back Daryl Janmaat has came under the spotlight again after his apparent refusal to go over and thank the Newcastle fans at the full-time whistle. Benitez looked very unimpressed and there will be no surprise if the Dutchman is dropped for Vurnon Anita. Fellow full-back Paul Dummett had a rocky time at Craven Cottage but it is probable that he will retain his place.

In the centre-back area, United often found themselves with plenty of space to run in to and take the ball further up the pitch, however, Jamaal Lascelles and Grant Hanley were unwilling to do that which slowed United’s play right down. With that in mind, Chancel Mbemba should step-up from the bench to replace Hanley in the starting 11. Mbemba carries a lot of pace and is often takes the ball forward. The introduction of Mbemba will certainly bring a lot more urgency to the side.

With defensive midfielder Isaac Hayden and Jack Colback both starting together last weekend, similar to the centre-back situation, there was a lack of presence in the central midfield when on the attack. Jonjo Shelvey joined the action at the latter stages against Fulham and seemed to attack with more purpose - constantly looking for forward passes. Hayden performed better in his role leaving Colback the one who is likely to be dropped.

In the number 10 role, Diame will come straight into the starting 11. Based on the defeat to Fulham, The Geordies require a physical presence in that role to drive at opponents. Unfortunately for Ayoze Perez, he didn’t provide that.

Matt Ritchie was one of the bright sparks at the Cottage which will leave him hard to drop. If Anita is reverted back to right-back, Rolando Aarons is the most likely replacement.

Aleksander Mitrovic serves his second of a four-match ban leaving Dwight Gayle to lead the line for the second consecutive week.  

Newcastle's potential starting 11 | Photo: lineupbuilder.com
Newcastle's potential starting 11 | Photo: lineupbuilder.com