On the face of it, the reasons for Newcastle United playing a weak team in the Europa League make sense. Despite a recent revival in their fortunes, the club still sit only four points off the relegation zone, and there's little doubt that they wouldn’t be keen to trade a successful run in Europe's second competition with their Premier League status.
With a match the following Sunday against fellow strugglers Southampton, Alan Pardew clearly feels that he should be saving his best players for the league match.
However whilst it might come across as overconfident, Newcastle should be feeling pretty positive about their chances of Premier League survival. They have two wins in their last three, and were close to at least gaining a point at White Hart Lane in their last match. They have a slew of excellent new players, and there are certainly plenty of sides you would mark as more likely to go down than Newcastle.
As such, they could find themselves in a mid-table position sooner rather than later, with little to play for in the rest of the season. If they are also out of the Europa League then they could struggle to motivate the side in the final few weeks.
Playing a strong team this Thursday should see them through to the next round against an underwhelming Metalist side, and they could do very well in the tournament if they continue to take it seriously. A cup run would give them real momentum in the rest of the season, something they could carry over to next season and they have enough players now to ensure that they can field a fresh and strong team in the league and Europe, especially as some of their new faces are cup tied anyway.
Also, as has been well publicised, their new recruits are generally from France, and might have a different view of the Europa League to the club in general. It might impact upon their motivation slightly to see the tournament dismissed by their new team.
If their league form does suffer, then Newcastle will be able to rest their players later on to try and guarantee survival, but if they are knocked out on Thursday as a result of playing a weak team then they simply won't have that option, and they might regret that choice by the end of the season.
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