Newcastle United will play host to Wigan Athletic tomorrow, entering into the first game of a busy and defining month for the club.
The Magpies have been in formidable form on the road this season, however, recent performances at St.James’ Park have created cause for concern.
The last two home outings have seen us pick up just 1 point, earning a 2-2 draw with Bristol City followed by a comprehensive 3-1 home defeat to Fulham.
With this in mind, I have noticed certain players go into their shell at St.James’ recently, and with the stakes now higher than ever, there’s no place for passengers and below par performances.
Here are 5 players i’m hoping can regain their best form in tomorrow’s clash against Wigan:
With 21 goals in 28 appearances, Gayle has been phenomenal this season. Dwight has looked a little out of sorts since returning from a niggling hamstring injury however. He lacked the energy we associate with him in his last home outing against Fulham and barely got a kick before being replaced by Daryl Murphy. Gayle looks set to start tomorrow so let’s hope the two week break has done him good, as we hope to see him fit and firing once again.
Mo Diame / Ayoze Perez
Whether it be Diame or Perez selected to play in the no.10 role tomorrow, both need to up their game. The pair have often took turns in Rafa’s side this season, playing just off the front man, but neither have contributed enough to the team. Diame and Perez are more than capable players on their day, but their day has not come often enough, seeing them put in several anonymous performances at St.James’ Park. Who ever starts tomorrow must show more intent, see more of the ball and have a greater impact on the game.
The midfield maestro has been a player re-born under Rafa Benitez this year. It must be said, however, that Shelvey has been rather wasteful in his previous two appearances against Reading and Fulham, seeing several of his attempted passes go well wide of the mark. This may be harsh criticism given how impressive he has been all season, but I hope to see Jonjo back to his best tomorrow, as Newcastle could ill afford his head to drop in such a crucial stage of the season.
The Newcastle captain has been a brick wall away from home this season, but has struggled on a number of occasions at St.James’ Park. He must stick to the simple things both defensively & in possession & stop trying to be something he’s not. He’s a no nonsense defender and that’s what we loved about him when he broke onto the scene in impressive fashion last season. Lascelles must go back to basics tomorrow and be fully switched on in Ciaran Clark’s absence.
With DeAndre Yedlin ruled out for the next few weeks, it’s imperative that the Dutchman does a job in the side. Since returning from injury, however, Anita has not looked comfortable and was given the run around by Ryan Sessegnon last time out, in a woeful performance against Fulham. The right-back could do with a good game to settle and install calm back into the side, as we enter a period where the stakes have never been higher.
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About Olly Hawkins
Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan - he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC.