A Change of Formation Ahead of Cardiff?

Cardiff come to Newcastle this weekend fresh from a defeat against struggling Wigan, so is this the perfect time to start both Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic?

It would certainly be a big statement of intent from Rafa Benitez, to include two strikers in his line-up.

To further support this, new Cardiff recruit Sol Bamba, has always struggled when having to mark an opponent, rather than perform his regular sweeping duties, which was evident this season in his start for Leeds United, which saw the Ivorian leave Elland Road early.

However, it is worth remembering just how well Benitez’s side have started this season, as well as the Spaniards success in the past.

If Benitez feels that the best way for the side to line up, is with 4-2-3-1 formation, then as fans, we need to trust his decision. As exciting as it may seem to play two up front, it could easily backfire, potentially leaving us three points worse off.

With the current formation working well, coupled with Newcastle being the highest scorers in the division, it is also worth remembering that while many sides, Newcastle included, play an attacking 4-2-3-1 formation, it has been some time since anyone played an attacking 4-4-2.

In fact, in recent years, the 4-4-2 formation has been used to play wingers that offer more cover to their fullback’s and a second striker used primarily to work hard, for example Okazaki at Leicester last season, with the focus being on one or two ‘star’ players to win the game, rather than the team dynamic that Benitez seems to be trying to build at Newcastle.

With this in mind, what should the team be for the Cardiff clash?

Karl Darlow will no doubt continue in goal, after impressing since he displaced Matz Sels. While There is an argument for DeAndre Yedlin to continue at right-back, it is likely that Vurnon Anita will be back in the side, to give more balance behind an attack-minded midfield. Paul Dummett seems to be irreplaceable at left back and while the Welshman may not be everyone’s favourite player, he is doing well enough to keep his place in the defence. As are centre backs Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark.

In midfield, regular Jonjo Shelvey will no doubt start as normal, while, due to home advantage, Isaac Hayden’s composure on the ball could compliment Shelvey well. The real dilemma comes in the shape of who to play on the wings. There seems no reason to drop Yoan Gouffran, he is playing well and gives great balance to the side, while also scoring some important goals. With Christian Atsu most likely to come in for the suspended Matt Ritchie, in a more realistic attack minded change. Atsu is very exciting and may pose a direct threat to the Cardiff back-line, again, due to home advantage.

Then there is the forward line. Mo Diame seems to have recaptured his form, and this makes him the outstanding candidate to continue in the attacking midfield role. However, in recent home games, Benitez has gone with Ayoze Perez as his ‘number ten’, with Diame being preferred away from home.

With this in mind, it is likely that Perez, who himself is in good form, will start the game. With Aleksandar Mitrovic in such good form, many fans want him to continue but as he seems to play better with Mo Diame, it is more likely that top scorer, Dwight Gayle, will be recalled if he is fit.

31 thoughts on “A Change of Formation Ahead of Cardiff?

  1. Rafa will stick to what he has done all season. Will just be interesting to see if it’s Mitro or Gayle. I’d go for Mitro on the basis that Cardiff will sit back so there won’t be much space for Gayle behind.


  2. Stuart: I can’t remember Rafa starting Gayle and Mitro but he did have Perez and Mitro in the team against QPR. That’s not that different.


  3. He sees Perez as a number ten where as by the looks of things he sees Gayle and Mitro as out and put strikers.


  4. I am trying not to second guess but I do not see why Mitro and Gayle cannot play in the same team. Rafa likes things compact but if you play Gouffy and Ritchie that will happen because they are both defensively minded and Rafa ALWAYS plays a holding midfielder. I can see them being a sort of Shearer/Bellamy though obviously not as good.

    I trust Rafa and on the run that we are on there is really no reason to change a winning system. However, part of me wants to see it for the excitement value. I want us to run riot and put teams to the sword. I know Rafa is not built like that and we have had two 6-0s anyway but I just want to see it after suffering through the Pardew-Carver-McClaren dross for so long. A team like Cardiff would seem ideal team to play it against although we did get beat by Wolves.


  5. With Perez, Mitro and Diame all finding their scoring boots it is a good problem to have. We scored a total of 44 goals last year, including 5 in the last game so I am not complaining.


  6. Jake – welcome to the blog mate & thanks for the article. It’s always nice to see a new writer, but please get in amongst the comments too.

    I think Rafa will stick with what’s worked up to now. I don’t see him playing both Mitro & Gayle together. I think if Gayle is 100% fit then he’Il go with him again, but the good news now is that if he isn’t, he can be confident Mitro is in form and Gayle can be rested.
    But, I reckon Gayle will be desperate to play against Warnock who managed him briefly at Palace.

    Atsu will be in for Ritchie, but will he then go with Diame or Perez, Colback or Hayden, Anita or Yedlin.
    Personally I’d go with Hayden, Yedlin & Perez.


  7. Having Yedlin and Anita competing for the right back spot got me thinking about the previous incumbents. Debuchy is in the wilderness at Arsenal and Janmaat has been benched by Watford. That is a bit of a fall from grace. Wasn’t he our player of the year 2 years ago? I think he may even be usurped by Anita in the Dutch team if he is not first choice at Watford.

    Yet more examples for the grass isn’t always greener argument although there hasn’t been enough time to judge on most of them. BUT, on the other hand, if they cannot even get in the team that has to say something.


  8. MDS:
    Think I’d play Atsu on the left, Yedlin on the right, and Anita at RB.

    I agree 100% mate it’s the way to go


  9. Sham: a 752 million gift, I just cannot believe there isn’t more of an uproar about it. Kimtoon should get down to speakers corner 🙂 I have said my piece in the past but it is worth repeating because the cost has gone up again and their fking fans are not even grateful and are causing trouble. If I was a Spurs supporter I would be livid.

    So we have the the Bongo brothers getting a gift from the tax payer. I have always been a bit annoyed at West Ham fans as they think they single-handedly won the 1966 World Cup and play fantastic football “the West Ham way” This hasn’t been true for at least 15 years, if it was ever true (I always thought Spurs played a better brand of football anyway). On top of that half their ex-players are up for sainthood, or at least knighthoods. They even want to award Bobby Moore a posthumous Knighthood which would be the first time ever. I am not even saying he doesn’t deserve it but there must be many more from the past that also do and not a peep was heard about them.


  10. Ah, but it’s a refreshing change.
    For many years now, and just as many managers, we’ve been debating and questioning starting line ups.
    ‘Why does he always pick ‘x’?’
    ‘Why won’t he play 2 up front?’
    ‘Why doesn’t he revert back to 4-3-3?’

    At least, for once, the answer is ‘because we’re winning’!


  11. Nice intro Jake. Hamstrings can be a right ******* to cure completely (ask Aarons and HBA) so I’d leave Gayle out and only change Ritchie for Atsu. He might consider Anita instead of Yedlin though as he’s always been a conservative ******.


  12. Georgio:
    That’s dreadful news for Danny Ings. Out for another whole season.

    aye a bit rough and the fans wanted us to sign him,how many games has he played since he went there maybe 6 some as sub,we missed a right sick note mate


  13. Welcome to the blog Jake, nice article mate.
    For me it’s Anita at RB as I feel that’s his best position and he does well there and a better RB than Janmaat and Debuchy ever were imo. No way Rafa will go 2 up front and he will not risk Gayle if he’s not 100% which is actually refreshing as previous managers have been rather reckless on that front, particularly Pards. Mitro is in form again so I would have him and Perez play off him. Pretty sure Goofy will get a start and Atsu probably. Can’t see the back line changing tbh and Hayden and Shelvey to start.

    Eric, don’t start me off re-West Ham or I won’t stop. Minging money grabbing owners, minging fans too, ungrateful ****s, hope they drop. Oh and they pay half the rent they do now if they drop apparently. Nice work if you can get it. How about they try using some of that TV dosh to sort out the security .


  14. For all of the turnover of our squad 4 of the 5 at the back were available to McClaren – Darlow, Anita, Lascelles and Dummett. The only new arrival is Clark and there is not that much of a drop off to MBemba in my opinion. So, the whole back line was available to McClaren and he consistently played Colo, Janmaat and Taylor.

    I know we have dropped down a league but maybe if these players were organised better we might not have. What did we need, an extra point or 2? I know hindsight is 20/20 but there were a lot on here saying that Janmaat was actually a defensive liability last year and it was almost unanimous that Colo was done.


  15. Kimtoon: West Ham are one of my pet peeves because of the way the media treat them. Done nowt, won nowt and yet never get questioned about anything. It has been said so much that the West Ham players won the world cup that it was almost accepted as fact. I wonder what Bobby Charlton and Gordon Banks were doing there? And although Geoff Hurst is an English hero there was a pretty good player waiting in the wings in Jimmy Greaves.


  16. Both Janmaat and Debuchy had a tendency to go missing when the going got tough or worse still lost their cool and got a red 🙄 I know they both got forward well and that’s why they were considered an upgrade on Simmo but they were poorer than him defensively imo. I actually did a stats thing I think, which showed Simmo was better at defending. I’m old fashioned , I like my defenders to defend first and foremost .


  17. Eric Sykes:
    Kimtoon: West Ham are one of my pet peeves because of the way the media treat them. Done nowt, won nowt and yet never get questioned about anything. It has been said so much that the West Ham players won the world cup that it was almost accepted as fact. I wonder what Bobby Charlton and Gordon Banks were doing there? And although Geoff Hurst is an English hero there was a pretty good player waiting in the wings in Jimmy Greaves.

    Very true Eric, very true.


  18. Mitro has been cracking in the goals, and also hoying himself about trying to convince Rafa he’s turned the corner.
    I’m pretty sure Rafa will play with two up front if both strikers are on fire and Rafa feels that it’s for the best for the team.



    64: SHOT! Sissoko, who has had a poor game so far in truth, drives at the heart of the Leverkusen defence before slicing a shot wide.

    where have we heard that one before ?


  20. MM: i watched that game and Sissoko made the wrong choice on almost every pass. He did a couple of things that were OK but I think the Spurs fans were getting on his back at the end. What I noticed is that when Spurs were making a fast break Sissoko was just jogging forward not offering his teammate anyone to pass to. He wasn’t even their worst player, Jansen looks a plank and didn’t do a single thing right all game.


  21. I might be wrong but I think that keeps up Sissoko’s record of zero goals and zero assists this season. Sorry Sharpy, I know you think we should just ignore what ex-players do but I am still interested to see what he does with supposedly better players around him. Maybe Walker and Wanyama can say they had decent games and the rest were absolute shyte so that might save Sissoko even more criticism.


  22. More from Spurs forum following tonight’s loss:

    ”Sorry, & I know every bloke we sign should be given every chance. I’ve defended soldado, Janssen & even Paulinho ffs. But sissoko leaves me cold as a Spurs “player”. I see **** all in him that I like. Absolutely nothing. He left Newcastle without any unrest from their fans. None. I just wish we’d let Everton blow 29.5 million on him & looked elsewhere or not bothered. **** poor. He looks completely out of his league.
    It’s looking more like a £30 million **** up every game he plays.”

    ”That was 90 minutes wasted. Who the **** is this Sissoko turd?”

    ”Oracle said: ↑
    Looking forward to our PL campaign at Wembley, we’d be lucky to beat 2 points in 8 games at this rate.

    Also I never judge players early but I’ll make an exception for Sissoko, he is dog **** and you can’t polish a dog turd.
    Can roll a turd In glitter, couldn’t even do that with sissoko.”

    ”30 million on sissoko? Fucking hell the Geordies must still be laughing.”

    ”Bergmattsson said: ↑
    Sissoko has been completely useless. Genuinely surprised at how poor he’s been.”

    ”Gutless. Disinterested. Complete lack of confidence and rightfully in a huge hole in the group. We need some sort of a miracle Sunday because our dip in form is reaching serious “slump” territory.

    Special mention to Sissoko who was the worst out of a very poor bunch. ”

    ”He’s been mediocre, but it’s like he doesn’t even care tonight. Just waltzing about doing nothing.”

    ”we should have bough Chirpy new boots instead of Pissoko.”

    ”Sissoko is definitely doing this on purpose. It’s laughable.”

    ……And the penny drops…..


  23. Sham, one day opo fans and the media will stop calling us deluded and expecting too much and wake up to the fact that ; A We can spot a poor, lazy player and
    B We can spot a poor coach


  24. Thanks for all of the comments and feedback! Always great to see different people’s views and opinions! Personally I like the idea of Diame/Ayoze as a ten with Gayle/Mitro in front. I think it gives us a structure that we have not had for some time!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.