With the winter break finally over and Newcastle back in Premier League action, it’ll be interesting to see what side Steve Bruce goes with at The Emirates this evening.
Joelinton is fine, Rose and Lazaro are available after missing out at Oxford and Gayle and Muto are ‘touch and go’, but Carroll, Shelvey, Manquillo, Krafth, Dummett and Wiillems are all out.
With fitness, form and injuries in mind, we think this could be something like the side that starts today:
Predicted NUFC XI – (5-2-2-1): Dubravka – Lazaro, Fernandez, Lascelles, Clark, Rose – Hayden, Bentaleb – Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Joelinton.
Changes from the side that started in our last game vs Oxford:
OUT – Schar, Lejeune, Yedlin, Ritchie, M Longstaff, S Longstaff.
IN – Fernandez, Clark, Rose, Lazaro, Hayden, Saint-Maximin.
In goal, Martin Dubravka is nailed on once again, but it will be interesting to see who Bruce picks at the back.
Lascelles seems nailed on when fit, but with both Schar and Lejeune fit again, reliable duo Federico Fernandez and Ciaran Clark have fierce competition.
Then at wing-back, we have Lazaro in contention to start – and I think he will. Yedlin’s final ball has let him down in our last two, but I fully expected the Inter Milan loanee to come into the side regardless, with Bruce likely to have guaranteed him regularly game time.
Down our left-hand side, it’s a little more difficult to predict who’ll start out of Matt Ritchie and Danny Rose. The former is fit again, but with him looking a little off the pace and limited since returning to the side, I see Rose getting the nod here.
In midfield, Shelvey is out once again, so two of Bentaleb, Hayden and the Longstaff brothers look will start. Sean must have gained real confidence from his superb display at Oxford, but Bentaleb and Hayden could be the more suitable option in a game where we’ll have large periods without the ball? Not only that, Bruce has hinted at playing S Longstaff in a more advanced role – but claimed he would not be able to play the same formation at the Emirates as he did at Oxford.
That said, I wouldn’t rule out Sean Longstaff, Hayden and Bentaleb making up a midfield three with Saint-Maximin and Almiron up top in a 5-3-2.
In attack it’s pretty straightforward, unless Bruce makes the surprise tactical change mentioned just above. Saint-Maximin and Almiron are nailed on out wide, while Joelinton – who’s fine despite limping off after his goal at Oxford – is likely to be our only fully fit striker once again!
How do you see us lining up?