Hatem Ben Arfa

By Anthony Marshall - Newcastle United Managing Editor

 

Hatem Ben Arfa makes his first Newcastle United appearance since early December as the Magpies travel to Anzhi Makhachkala in the first leg of their Europa League Round of 16 tie on Thursday (5pm kick-off GMT).

The French international forward has been sidelined for the past 12 weeks with a hamstring complaint, but starts at the Luzhniki Stadium, in Moscow, in a strong United line-up.

Ben Arfa's inclusion is one of seven changes from Saturday's Premier League defeat at Swansea City, with the only survivors from that match in South Wales being goalkeeper Rob Elliot, centre-back Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, and midfielders Yohan Cabaye and Moussa Sissoko.

Newcastle are expected to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Elliot protected by a back four of Danny Simpson, James Perch, Yanga-Mbiwa and Massadio Haidara,

Stand-in captain Cabaye will anchor the midfield alongside former Ajax man Vurnon Anita, allowing the creative trio of Sylvain Marveaux, Sissoko and Gabriel Obertan to feed lone front man Ben Arfa.

On the substitutes' bench there is a place for 18-year-old striker Adam Campbell, who became the Magpies' youngest European debutant when he featured against Atromitos in the qualifying round in July.

There is also experience in the shape of Steven Taylor, Cheick Tiote and Shola Ameobi.

Anzhi name former Portsmouth, Arsenal and Chelsea midfielder Lassana Diarra and ex-Chelsea wide man Yuri Zhirkov in their starting line-up. They are also captained by former Barcelona and Inter Milan front man Samuel Eto'o.

 

Anzhi Makhachkala (4-2-3-1): Vladimir Gabulov; Andrey Eschenko, Joao Carlos, Ewerton, Yuri Zhirkov; Jucilei da Silva, Lassana Diarra; Odil Ahmedov, Willian, Oleg Shatov; Samuel Eto'o (c)

Substitutes: Evgeniy Pomazan, Rasim Tagirbekov, Arseny Logashov, Ali Gadzhibekov, Carcela-Gonzalez, Fedor Smolov, Lacina Traore

 

Newcastle United (4-2-3-1): Rob Elliot; Danny Simpson, Mapou Yanga-MbiwaJames Perch, Massadio Haidara; Yohan Cabaye (c), Vurnon Anita; Sylvain Marveaux, Moussa Sissoko, Gabriel Obertan; Hatem Ben Arfa

Substitutes: Jak Alnwick, Davide Santon, Steven Taylor, Gael Bigirimana, Cheick Tiote, Adam Campbell, Shola Ameobi

 

Referee: Istvan Vad (Hungary)

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