As much as Newcastle’s on-field play will be heavily scrutinised in the early weeks of 2022, the incomings are nigh, as the club’s new owners prepare to splash the cash in the January transfer window in their bid to avoid relegation from the top flight.
Kieran Trippier’s arrival from Atletico Madrid is imminent, and more may follow in the coming weeks amid links with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Philippe Coutinho, but Eddie Howe must focus on the task at hand on the St James’ Park turf.
The Magpies have bigger fish to fry in the Premier League as they try to clamber to safety, but they impressively held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw in their final game of 2021 and were arguably unfortunate not to come away with maximum points on the day.
Newcastle have lifted the FA Cup on six occasions down the years but have not tasted success in the competition since 1955, most recently bowing out to 14-time winners Arsenal in the third round of the 2020-21 edition and failing to make it past the quarter-finals since 2005.
Saturday’s game undoubtedly provides Newcastle with a prime opportunity to improve on their paltry tally of one win across all tournaments this season, but with absentees potentially stretching into the double figures once more, Cambridge can dare to dream.
Goals were at a premium for Cambridge in the closing stages of 2021, and the beginning of 2022 followed a similar pattern for Mark Bonner’s side, who drew another blank during the visit of Portsmouth to Abbey Stadium in League One.
Despite boasting just 33% of the ball and facing 13 shots on goal – only five of which were on target, though – Cambridge survived the onslaught and had opportunities of their own to take the spoils,
but a lack of ruthlessness bedevilled them in a fixture that saw 21 minutes of second-half injury time due to a medical emergency in the crowd.
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A three-game streak without a win or a goal is not a recipe for success before a journey to a Premier League ground, and the U’s are yet to assure themselves of League One safety, but their rapid rise from the non-league days of 2014 is nothing to be sniffed at.
Cambridge have already sent Northampton Town and Exeter City packing from this season’s FA Cup, although they needed a replay to overcome the former in the first round, but they have not made it past this stage of the competition since being beaten by Manchester United in the fourth round of the 2014-15 edition.
Newcastle and Cambridge were regular foes back in the days of League Division Two and League Division One, with the Magpies winning both meetings by an aggregate score of 7-1 in 1992-93 en route to the Premier League as Cambridge dropped back down a tier