Newcastle vs Burton preview: Rafa to rotate for rare back to back home wins?

Newcastle play host to Burton Albion at St. James’ Park tonight, looking to do something they’ve not done in 13 attempts since 2013 – win back-to-back home matches in the league.

Tonight provides an opportune moment for Rafa and the side to break that unwanted record, with United failing to win back-to-back home games in their previous four attempts in the league this season.

While tonight’s opponents, Burton Albion, will represent a straight forward win for the Magpies, Nigel Clough’s side won’t go down without a fight and I certainly won’t be taking three points for granted.

The Brewers pulled off an impressive 1-0 win over Huddersfield on Saturday, doing our promotion chances a real favour, but in the process, warning Rafa’s men that they are capable of an upset.

It is worth noting, however, that Saturday’s heroics will have undoubtedly left the Burton team tired – as we know all too well, with three lacklustre displays following our monumental effort to win at Huddersfield.

With this in mind, I expect Rafa to field a team capable of unsettling Burton from the off and I am predicting a few changes from Saturday’s line up.

Team news

Benitez confirmed yesterday that tonight’s game will come too soon for the recovering Ciaran Clark and DeAndre Yedlin.

Daryl Murphy has returned to full training and is in contention again tonight after missing out on the squad on Saturday.

For the visitors, late decisions may be made on John Brayford, Kyle McFadzean, Tom Flanagan and Lucas Akins, with all four picking up knocks following Saturday’s game.

Brian Clough must also decide whether to hand star man, Jackson Irvine, a start from the off, with the jet-lagged Australian grabbing the winner from the bench on Saturday.

Predicted Line up

I’m sticking my neck out a little here, but I fancy Rafa to possibly make the following FIVE changes tonight:

Murphy/Mitro in for Gayle? The side’s top scorer got back on the goal trail on Saturday but given tougher tests await in the weeks to come, with trips to Sheffield Wednesday and a visit of Leeds, Rafa could protect a striker who is in the early stages of returning from a niggling Hamstring problem. Murphy has done the job in the past and is full of experience, however, should he fail to make tonight’s game, don’t rule out a rare start for Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Perez IN, Diame OUT? I was unsure about this one as I imagine Benitez would want Diame’s physicality against a big Burton side. Perez deserves another chance in the side however, with the Spaniard being one of United’s best players in his last start away to Birmingham. This being said, it’s time for Ayoze to offer more at St. James’ Park, with the No. 10 due a good game at home. Diame showed signs of improvement against Wigan, but the way the pair tend to rotate, I expect to see Perez back in the side tonight.

Atsu IN, Gouffran OUT? I expect Burton to sit deep and try and defend it out tonight. With this in mind, Newcastle require players capable of unsettling the visitors and Atsu’s pace and directness wouldn’t go a miss. Gouffran has done a solid job this season but has faded in recent weeks, being a player more suited to Saturday’s away trip to Sheffield Wednesday.

Hayden IN, Colback OUT? Hayden’s presence has been sorely missed in the side and tonight I expect to see him come in from the start. He came on in the closing stages on Saturday and looked assured, giving the midfielder an ideal taster ahead of tonight’s match. Hayden also stands little over 6ft, offering a significant physical edge over the smaller Jack Colback, which could come in useful given Burton’s main threat tonight may come from set pieces.

Gamez IN, Anita OUT? Possibly the most outrageous call of the lot. Anita hasn’t long returned from a two-month injury lay off, however in Yedlin’s absence, the Dutchman has been required to play each of the last three games at right-back. Whilst he put in a good shift on Saturday, after uncomfortable displays against Fulham and Birmingham, two games in four days may be one too many for a player who, like Gayle, hasn’t long recovered from a substantial injury. Gamez has been a forgotten man for most of the season but was handed a surprise start away to Reading last month, showing that Benitez isn’t beyond throwing the Spaniard into proceedings if necessary. Gamez also looks a player comfortable on the ball and given tonight could see Newcastle have plenty of possession, with Burton sitting deep, his quality in that sense could prove fruitful.

I may be way off, but these are a few potential ideas that Rafa could go with tonight, in a game that Newcastle must approach positively with attacking intent.

It is also worth noting that top two chasers, Huddersfield, face a tough test against Norwich tonight, however, at this stage, Newcastle are in full control of their own destiny, regardless of results elsewhere.

Here’s hoping complacency is no more (amongst players and fans), with a win not only seeing us return to the summit, but a step closer to a return to the top flight.

Howay the lads!

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.

47 thoughts on “Newcastle vs Burton preview: Rafa to rotate for rare back to back home wins?

  1. Olly: I will be shocked if Rafa leaves out Gayle. This is an opportunity to get points on the board and get one step closer to promotion and I think our top scorer will play. You may point out that when teams sit back it negates Gayle’s pace but he is still more of an instinctive finisher than Perez and Mitro.

    Easter soon, so it is good to see you have Brian Clough back from the dead and managing Burton.

  2. Going for the short-arse attack. Surprised that MBemba is back and Colback not even on the bench. Is Colback injured?

  3. Eric Sykes:
    Colback not even on the bench.

    Who’s going to break the bad news to Ice?

    Mbemba has to be the most surprising inclusion, although I’m excited to see Diame play in the middle of the park – if it works well, we may never see Colback again. Also, where’s Hayden? Did he tweak something on Saturday or is Rafa taking it slow with him?

  4. Bein has Barca/Sevilla now, followed by Real Madrid. Chelsea and City are on live at the same time on TV. NUFC on the radio.

    I am recording a couple of the games. Watched the 3-0 Barca first half and Messi was on a different planet.

  5. Said on the wireless that Colback has caught another illness, he’s had that a few times now.. (make of that what you will)

  6. There is also Kilmarnock and Rangers but that doesn’t have the same allure since Troy’s choice for Manager of NUFC left Killy.

  7. Am I crazy, or should the punishment for encroachment be re-taking the penalty? Surely we shouldn’t lose a clear-cut scoring opportunity because someone stepped on the line a half-second early.

  8. 😆 They got the rule book out trying to figure out why that was disallowed and a fk given

  9. Tell you what like, Man U, Chelsea whoever are top of the league, when you go to their place you have to beat them and the ref! We are top the championship, biggest club, the refs seem to give everything against us!! We never get any help like do we?

  10. Charlie Prince:
    Am I crazy, or should the punishment for encroachment be re-taking the penalty? Surely we shouldn’t lose a clear-cut scoring opportunity because someone stepped on the line a half-second early.

    No not crazy mate, that’s the rules as I understood them too.

  11. Look at the PL scores, Huh huh. Mackems bye bye….. Bye bye baby, baby bye byeeee. 😮

  12. Unbelievable. Between this and having TWO rescinded red cards in the same game (which I had never heard of before), it really does seem like they’re trying to add an extra level of difficulty for us this year.

  13. I completely understand that the level of officiating in the Championship isn’t going to be the same level as the Premier League. I fully expect to have a higher rate of missed calls for things like offside, maybe a penalty missed or incorrectly given. But to not have any idea what the rulebook says about a fairly clear-cut situation? Ridiculous.

    BTW, the BBC live feed confirmed that both the FIFA and FA rulebooks suggest that a re-take is the proper call there.

  14. Charlie Prince:
    Unbelievable. Between this and having TWO rescinded red cards in the same game (which I had never heard of before), it really does seem like they’re trying to add an extra level of difficulty for us this year.

    I guess it’s not every team that brings 50k crowds to this league so maybe they think a second year for us down here will do no harm .. Only half joking

  15. I hope the team won’t be affected by the accident. We still have 45 minutes to win it.

  16. So apparently, some people are saying the ref might have called a foul as the penalty was being taken. How do you foul in a dead ball situation? How many times have we seen players literally grappling before a corner, and the ref simply tells them to stop, then gets on with the corner?

  17. have you heard this ****, that at HIS discretion he can award an indirect fk to the opposition if he see’s a foul ( a foul seen before the pen too) !!
    Bollocks to that

  18. WTF happened? We had a pen disallowed for a foul outside the box as Gayle ran up to take it?

  19. Fans Should Own the Club:
    WTF happened? We had a pen disallowed for a foul outside the box as Gayle ran up to take it?

    Just before Ritchie took the pen Gayle committed a foul on the edge of the box. This was what the ID FK was given for and why the pen disallowed . This is apparently a new rule and the Ref is allowed to do this at HIS discretion .
    Can you imagine trying that **** at a top 4 PL club, wouldn’t happen. Stupid rule.

  20. I don’t understand how one foul can’t just cancel out another. That’s insane. Regardless of whether Gayle fouled someone, that doesn’t mean that Burton didn’t foul us in the box. Insane.

    And now Huddersfield have scored.

  21. No doubt Gayle was the king earlier this season, but Ritchie is peaking now at this later stage, thanks to his hard work and focus. Good for Newcastle!

  22. funrafa:
    No doubt Gayle was the king earlier this season, but Ritchie is peaking now at this later stage, thanks to his hard work and focus. Good for Newcastle!

    player of the season ?

  23. Howay, 3 more points, it aint pretty but Sammy Ameobi is on now to clean up !

  24. So ref holds his hands up to making a mistake and apologises, just as well we won the game.

  25. Wait a minute… I have seen quite a few penalties re-taken for encroachment. In all of my football watching I have never seen an indirect free kick awarded. I have never even heard of it happening.

  26. Just got back from the game – another big win.

    Unbelievable scenes mind – never seen anything quite like it from the officials. Thank god it didn’t go on to cost us 3 points!

    Look out for my Match report coming tomorrow morning folks.

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