With Saturday’s game at St James’ Park just over 48 hours away, it seems a good time to take a look at the side Steve Bruce could start against Sheffield United.
Last weekend’s win over Southampton was both huge and well deserved – even though we did make hard when of it – but there’s a few changes I can see us making.
One is enforced, with this set to be the first of many Martin Dubravka will miss over the next ‘6-8 weeks’ now a knee injury has been confirmed, meaning Karl Darlow will come in for his first Premier League appearance of the season.
The other one, however, is a tactical switch I hope to see Bruce make this weekend, with it seeming only fair that Valentino Lazaro returns to the side in place of Matt Ritchie.
Not only did Ritchie misplace too many passes at Southampton, I’m struggling to see how he fits into this 4-2-3-1 formation right now – especially when Lazaro’s pace, movement and quick thinking helped give our attack that extra bit of spark and fluidity at West Brom last week.
Predicted XI: (4-2-3-1) – Darlow – Manquillo, Lascelles, Fernandez, Rose – Hayden, Shelvey – Lazaro, Almiron, Saint-Maximin – Gayle.
Elsewhere, there’ll be some calls to drop Dwight Gayle after he missed THREE big chances at St Mary’s, but he deserves another chance for me. After all, he’ll score soon enough if he keeps getting himself into good positions – something Joelinton could learn from if he’s benched once again.
At the back, there’ll always be calls for Schar to start at home given his ability to get us on the front foot or create from deep, but I can’t see Bruce splitting up Fernandez or Lascelles after back-to-back Premier League clean sheets.
How do you see us lining up when the high-flying Blades come to town this weekend?