A massive game awaits us tonight as we play a weakened and out of sorts Manchester United side at St James’ Park.
Steve Bruce should be looking to take all three points from this one, due to the opposition’s injury woes, poor performances and general lack of confidence.
Therefore, I think Steve Bruce will go for a slightly different side to the one that saw off Burnley – as Man United’s current state encourages us to play fearless, attacking football.
As a result of this, here’s the XI that I think Bruce will go for tonight:
Out – Schar, Hendrick?
IN – Lascelles, Fraser?
First of all, it’s important to address the centre-half conundrum. Fabian Schar has been deemed fit after his shoulder injury scare, but he didn’t exactly impress for Switzerland over the international break.
He made a catastrophic error that ultimately cost his side a win against Germany (as well as getting himself sent off late-on).
As for Lascelles, he finally returned to training this week, but I imagine he won’t be fully-fit – and he certainly won’t be 100% match-sharp. So I’m not completely certain who Bruce will go with, but I’m leaning towards the skipper.
You’ll also notice that I’ve got Jeff Hendrick down as being dropped. I really see him losing his place to Ryan Fraser on the right-wing for this one.
Fraser has been fighting for his first Premier League start and his performance for Scotland against the Czech Republic earned him the man of the match award. In that game, it looked as if he’s finally up to speed and his constant direct threat is exactly what Manchester United’s defence will be afraid of in their current state. He has to start for me!
The only justification I can see for starting Hendrick is that he provides great defensive cover – and the threat of Rashford/Telles linking up down that side is frightening. I still think Bruce goes with Fraser, though.
Miguel Almiron will again feel hard done by to miss out. However, we’ll likely see him from the bench – as Bruce noted that he’s ‘tired’ having just travelled from Paraguay after the international break.
Matty Longstaff loves a goal against Manchester United, but it looks as if he’ll just miss out this time – instead gaining fitness by lining up for the U-23s on Monday.
After that Burnley win, the rest of the team really picks itself. I just hope that Wilson & Saint-Maximin are currently sat wrapped in cotton wool!
All things told, form and fitness are definitely on our side tonight, that’s for sure – I really expect the team above to get something from the game!
How do you see us setting up? Let us know in the comments below!