The Toon are back in action tomorrow afternoon as they take on a Fulham side hellbent on reaching this year’s Championship play-offs.
217 days have passed since these two sides last met on the opening day of the 16/17 campaign and it’s fair to say that this game wasn’t a particularly nice inauguration into England’s second tier for Rafa Benitez’s men.
On a balmy summer evening, the Magpies fell to a 1-0 defeat at Craven Cottage in a game which will probably most be remembered for this silky bit of skill from Fulham’s Aluko. Whilst hindsight’s a wonderful thing, looking back at the way we lined up that day, it’s easy to see why we came up short; no Diame, no Shelvey (until the 77th minute) and a front three that had never played together before. It doesn’t take a genius to realise that a positive result would never be on the cards .
This time around however, our Magpies are a different proposition altogether.
Whilst we didn’t quite get full marks in our recent three game mid-term against Reading, Huddersfield and Brighton (I’m nitpicking again, I know), the extra breathing space we’ve picked up between ourselves and Huddersfield in third should perpetuate more of a relaxed and calm attitude on the pitch this weekend.
Rafa’s experienced enough to not let the lads get complacent, so I think in light of our growing lead at the top of the table, we should see more of a vibrant Newcastle side at St James’ Park tomorrow, and I don’t mean it in a cocksure way.
At the risk of sounding like a Costa-drinking, hashtag-using, fedora-wearing millennial, what I’d like to see above anything else tomorrow is a bit of SWAG.
We yet again surrendered a large proportion of possession against Reading on Tuesday night. Whilst, yes we created the better chances and possibly should have gone on to win the game, the fact that most of our efforts on goal came from outside the penalty box, shows that we perhaps could have done with a bit more time on the ball to help pry our way closer to goal.
With all this in mind, here’s how I’d like to see us line-up this weekend: