Burnley (H): Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

I honestly think this is one of THE biggest games of Steve Bruce’s time on Tyneside.

On paper we’re in a solid position, being 10th in the table and through to the Carabao Cup quarter finals, however we’ve rode our luck and played awful in the majority of our games so far.

Fans are aware that, as things stand, our style of play is turgid and that things will only be going one way if performance levels and playing styles don’t seriously improve – with the scary stat of just three shots on target in our opening three Premier League games being an alarming one.

Burnley won’t come here and take the game to us like Brighton did either, or at least they shouldn’t be allowed to, so the pressure is on to approach this one in the right way and get at a struggling side we really should be beating.

After all, Bruce can’t hide behind excuses this time around if the likes of Wilson, Almiron, Saint-Maximin and Fraser can’t cause them problems.

Team news

Jamaal Lascelles could miss out with a hamstring issue, but Allan Saint-Maximin has been backed to return after training all week.

Fabian Schar is available again and could step in if the skipper isn’t deemed fit enough, with Ciaran Clark (thigh), Paul Dummett (hamstring) and Emil Krafth (hip) all looking set to miss out.

Elsewhere, Matt Ritchie is our latest long-term absentee after undergoing shoulder surgery, joining Martin Dubravka (ankle), Dwight Gayle (knee) and Matty Longstaff on the sidelines.

Predicted line up

Predicted NUFC XI (4-2-3-1): Darlow – Manquillo, Schar, Fernandez, Lewis – Hayden, Shelvey, – Saint-Maximin, Almiron, Joelinton – Wilson.

If Lascelles is fit he starts, but with Bruce confirming he’s a doubt and Schar now fit again and featuring at Newport, the Swiss centre-back looks like our only option to come in.

Hayden will likely start alongside Shelvey – although there’ll be calls for Hendrick to play in his preferred position against his former club.

To fit in the Irishman, Bruce could easily play him on the right-hand side as he did at West Ham, however I feel Wilson and Almiron are nailed on to start, as is Saint-Maximin when he’s fit – and I don’t see how we can leave Joelinton out after he was our best outfield player at Spurs and helped change the game when coming on from the bench in another improved outing at Newport.

I also feel Bruce knows he has to go for it against Burnley to help win over his doubters, so an attacking front four seems likely.

The opposition

Here’s a few ones to watch in Sean Dyche’s Clarets side:

Dwight McNeil – Burnley’s most talented player and a brilliant crosser of the ball. Manquillo was poor at Newport, so needs to be much better here to cut out the sort of quality service Chris Wood thrives on in the box.

Chris Wood – The big Kiwi is dominant in the air and an underrated goalscorer, bagging 34 goals in his last three Premier League seasons. If Lascelles is out, it could be a tough physical battle for whoever’s forced to step in – especially if Ashley Barnes partners him!

James Tarkowski – He looked likely to join West Ham a few weeks back, however Burnley have rejected several bigs and brought him back into their side for the first time this season in a midweek cup defeat to Man City. He’s a brute in the air who’ll cause problems in both boxes if selected.

Nick Pope – One of the best goalkeepers in the division who narrowly missed out on the Premier League golden glove last season with 15 clean sheets. We’ve scored with every shot on target we’ve had so far this season, however he’ll be looking to get his first shut-out of 2020/21 here.

Predicted Burnley XI: (4-4-2) Pope – Bardsley, Long, Tarkowski, Taylor – Brownhill, Stephens, Westwood, McNeil – Barnes, Wood.


I’m far from confident based on Bruce’s uninspiring comments and some of the atrocious performances we’ve put in so far this season, but I think we’ll just about get the job done here.

Burnley have had an unsettled start to the new season and Sean Dyche looks a frustrated man after failing to be backed in the transfer window.

They’ll sit back, be stubborn and difficult to break down at times – and Lascelles’ presence could be missed at the other end when they throw high balls into the box – however I think Wilson will bag his first goal at St James’ Park and think we’ll benefit from having Saint-Maximin back in the side.

Prediction: Newcastle 2-1 Burnley


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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!

27 thoughts on “Burnley (H): Predicted line-ups, pre-match thoughts & team news

  1. I think the main thing is we have to change the tactic. I dont really care if we play 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 what we cannot have is Shelvey as quarterback. The tactic of our centerbacks and Hayden getting the ball and laying it off to Jonjo has been sussed. He has to play further up the field and use his undoubted talent to play 15 yard balls rather than 40 yard balls. All of the better teams play a version of keep ball and Shelvey cannot be just giving it away cheaply anymore.

    We actually have the players now to let Shelvey shine and he is best if he doesnt really have time to think and plays on instinct. That is also why he should never take a corner or direct free kick ever again.

    I dont even mind Jonjo but when he is played as a quarterback we just become too predictable.

    Sorry for another Shelvey rant, I just think that we are not setting up to use his, and our flair players’, talent effectively.

    We can see it. People on this blog and other blogs can see it. Why cant Bruce? Oh, that’s right he needs more time. 15 months isnt enough and just look at Jurgen Klopp 🙂


  2. When was the last time we broke the 50% possession barrier with the opposition having 11 on the pitch? I am not sure if a Bruce NUFC team has ever done it in the PL. Not even against West Ham! I am OK playing counter attack against Man City or Liverpool but not Burnley. We shall see.


  3. Eric – Shelvey is at his best when the ball is played into him and he hits a first time pass 40yrds out to right or left, or knocking the ball round the corner to start an attack.
    He’s our modern day Cabaye if you like.

    The problem he has right now is that the left midfielder is tucked in as a 2nd left back, and the right midfielder the same on his side. Almiron is alongside or behind him and not there to make that pass to. So his only option is Joelinton or Wilson who are heavily marked coz there is no other NUFC player within 30 yards of them.
    Then Shelvey gets caught on the ball coz the opposition know he’s not great running with the ball so pressing him either gets the ball back or he makes a sloppy pass.


  4. Shelvey says that 2 or 3 years ago they would play lump ball, but the gaffer wants them to play – and I believe he does. You look at the players he’s brought in and it supports that.

    But Bruce is liked by the players because he gives them a freedom to play. He’s not the disciplinarian that Rafa was – drilling the players every training session. Whilst that might get him brownie points with the players, it doesn’t get results on the pitch.

    Successful teams play with a discipline. Rafa done it in a defensive way, Liverpool do it in a high press attacking way. Fergie had Man Utd set up in a counter attacking way – the players they got forward at pace was unreal.
    Leceister won the league with the 4-4-2 and everyone knowing their role in that set up.
    Sir Bobby demanded that big Al play the width of the box – and it work wonders. But it’s all examples of playing with a discipline.

    Bruce can shout his mouth off as much as he likes. But no fan has ever said they expect us to play like Liverpool – no team in the league does.

    But I don’t see how he can question our disappointment, when he himself accepts that we aren’t playing well. He questions the lucky comments – we have converted every shot on targeted so far this season in the league – 3 shots, 3 goals. Is that not luck???. If he says no then he’s setting his bar every high this season.
    But equally, off the back of that – we have only had 3 shots on target so far this season. If he does attribute that to poor tactics – then what??.
    We were right down the stats table for goals scored & chances created last season too – so the fans haven’t just jumped on the last 3 league games – and credit was given for the WH performance, despite the lack of SOT.

    Pardew worked on a shoestring as well, but he had a style and discipline with his 4-3-3 when each player knew their role & we could see a certain style of play.

    Bruce has played a number of formations already this season, with numerous players. I know he’s had injuries, but switching to 5 at the back with Hayden as CB wasn’t due to injuries.

    He has 2 players for every position now. Pick a formation, work on it, have the players know their role in it and stick with it.

    Don’t worry what the opposition are doing. Nobody expects to win every game and no other team I can think of changes formations depending on who they play.


  5. On the game itself – I don’t think it will be pretty at all. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a real hard watch 0-0.

    If we can win it and go into the break with 7 points. I think that would be an excellent return from the first 4 fixtures.


  6. It is hilarious that Bruce is comparing himself to Klopp saying he was given time. He took over Liverpool midseason and got to the finals of the EUFA and League Cups. Next year he qualified for the Champions League. That was followed by runner up in the CL. Then he won the CL and finished second in the PL. Last year of course he won the CL. Meantime his win % is over 60%.

    I wouldnt be going comparing your self to Jurgen, you open yourself up to ridicule.


  7. Watched Everton and Pickford made yet another mistake. I dont care about Everton but Southgate must see this and replace him with Pope.


  8. Not sure why Almiron and Manquillo have been left out. There’s a 2 week break so it cant be to save them.


  9. Good first half. If we played like this every week Brucey wouldn’t get criticised imo. You can see the players are closing down when we don’t have the ball and have attacking intent rather than sitting back and defending.


  10. Been sitting on the last thread with Kim… no notice of a new thread!

    Good first half but St Maxi is getting hacked left right and centre!


  11. St Max is fast. You sometimes forget with his dribbling but he skinned 2 Burnley players there.


  12. That was a red card by Barnes. Exactly the same as from Son last year where he was on the ground and kicked out.


  13. Pope was the last man and denied a goal scoring opportunity – should have been red.

    Now wilson has double Joe’s goals of last year.


  14. Great game and great result. Should’ve been 2 reds for Burnley there but hey ho, I’ll take that. Played well too. If only we could do that every game! ??


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