While I’m not a fan of the ‘cup final’ comments before the game (it’s a bit early for that?!), this is surely Steve Bruce’s biggest game so far.
With our four games after this being Leicester (A), Man Utd (H), Chelsea (A) and Wolves (H), this feels like a crucial moment to get points on the board and our first home win of the season.
It won’t be easy, mind. Brighton have frustrated us at St James’ Park over the past two years, coming away with a 0-0 draw and 0-1 win in their last few visits, however I see this being a different sort of game this time around.
Graham Potter has totally changed their style of football, with their possession stats increasing by 12% and them playing much more on the front foot. With this in mind, I see there being a few goals in this one or at least being a slightly more open game which doesn’t involve Brighton putting 10 men behind the ball for the most part.
News that Andy Carroll and Saint-Maximin are fit enough to make the bench gives us all a welcome boost ahead of a game that promises to define our start to the season.
Win and we’ll see it as a solid start considering the fixtures we’ve had, but lose and Bruce will be going into tough games with fans on his back and his team in the bottom three.
Carroll and Saint-Maximin may be back, but both will be limited to substitute appearances at best, meaning a front three of Atsu, Joelinton and Almiron looks nailed on.
Atsu has been in brilliant form, while Joelinton is really starting to find his feet in a black and white shirt. As for Almiron, the pressure really is on him now to show a little bit more composure. He’s got pace to burn and incredible enthusiasm for the game, he just needs to slow things down at times, improve his decision making and that crucial final pass. If there’s anyone I’d love to see score in this one, it’s him. He badly needs a goal!
In midfield, Hayden is one of the first names on the team sheet these days and, with Sean Longstaff ruled out, Jonjo Shelvey looks set to start once again in what will be a huge chance for him to impress at St James’ Park. After all, if he can’t take these sort of games by the scruff of the neck and pull the strings, where does he fit in our plans moving forward?
At the back, Willems will continue at left wing-back in Ritchie’s absence. He’s clearly an attacking talent, but will need to stay switched on at the other end.
On our right hand side, Bruce may be tempted to start Manquillo down the other side following Krafth’s poor display at Anfield.
That said, it seems the Swede is his first choice option so I would not be surprised if he stuck with him. I would prefer to see Manquillo start, however. Not because I don’t rate Krafth – I think some criticism towards him has been harsh – but because Manquillo has done little wrong and looks more of a natural ‘wing-back’ who can help us get on the front foot here.
At centre-back, the reliable trio of Dummett, Lascelles and Schar will almost certainly start once again – although it’ll be interesting to see what Bruce does when Lejeune returns..
Preferred NUFC XI – (3-4-2-1) – Dubravka – Schar, Lascelles, Dummett – Krafth, Shelvey, Hayden, Willems – Almiron, Atsu – Joelinton.
Newcastle are 6/4 to beat Brighton in Saturday’s late kick off, which can be backed with the aid of online casino games.
Here’s a few ‘ones to watch’ in Graham Potter’s Brighton side:
Neal Maupay – The French striker completed a club record move to Brighton this summer (£20m) and has bagged 2 goals already this season. He scored 28 goals (and bagged 9 assists) for Brentford last season hasn’t looked out of place in the Premier League so far.
Dunk / Duffy / Burn – I’ve named all three Brighton centre-backs, with the towering trio being huge threats from set pieces and posing a tough physical challenge for Joelinton at the other end.
Pascal Gross – No player outside the top 6 has created more chances per 90 minutes than the German playmaker. He had a quiet last season but bagged 7 goals and 8 assists during his first year in the Premier League and looks to be one of the players who’s benefited from Graham Potters arrival.
Predicted Brighton XI – (4-3-3): Ryan – Duffy, Dunk, Burn – Montoya, Stephens, Propper, March – Gross, Murray, Maupay.
Andy Carroll and Allan Saint-Maximin have been passed fit and look set to take their place on the bench, however Sean Longstaff will miss out once again with an ankle injury.
Fabian Schar is fine, despite limping off at Liverpool last weekend, and DeAndre Yedlin is in contention after returning to training, but the game will come too soon for Matt Ritchie, Florian Lejeune and Dwight Gayle.
Brighton’s beat Watford 3-0 in their opening away game of the season and lost 4-0 at Man City in their next game on the road – but I’m told they could and should have scored a couple in that game.
They’re much more attack minded under Potter, but have only scored twice since the first day of the season and could give us a little bit more space at the other end of the pitch as a result – something the likes of Almiron and Atsu could thrive on.
I see them scoring, but feel we might just sneak our first win of the season here.
Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Brighton
Howay the lads!