With tonight’s trip to Arsenal just a few hours away, it’s time to predict what sort of side Steve Bruce will go with ahead of our 8pm kick off at The Emirates.
Keeping form, fitness, our last trip to Arsenal and Bruce’s “I’m going to do it my way” comments in mind, here’s the team I can see him going with:
(4-4-2): Darlow – Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis – Murphy, Hayden, M Longstaff, Ritchie – Carroll, Wilson.
OUT – Yedlin, Schar, Fernandez, Dummett, Hendrick, S Longstaff and Fraser?
IN– Krafth, Lascelles, Lewis, M Longstaff, Murphy, Ritchie and Carroll?
Bruce said he’s doing it “his way” now, so you can only assume that’s him dropping ‘Benitez’s back five’ and ‘having a go’.
Starting in goal, Darlow did nothing wrong against Sheffield United and kept us in it before their second half penalty, so he doesn’t deserve to be dropped. That said, Dubravka did nothing wrong when we played Arsenal in the cup…
With Fernandez having a knock and Schar rarely trusted to play in a back four, I can see a fit-again Lascelles partnering the reliable Clark.
At full-back Yedlin often struggles in a four and Manquillo (our best RB for me) has been off the scene ever since he got COVID, so Krafth could well come in – a player who Bruce has picked quite a few times when he’s gone with a back four.
Down the left, Dummett’s display at Sheffield United and withdrawal through fatigue could pave the way for Lewis – the £15m man who’s been tipped to return by Bruce after a few weeks out with a swollen knee.
In midfield, Sean Longstaff and Hendrick will surely drop out after dire displays at Bramall Lane, so I can see Matty coming back to give us that energy we’ve lacked and partnering Hayden. Shelvey has been spotted in training but his recent groin issues and absence from the side makes me wonder if he’s still not fully fit – something that wouldn’t make him suited to a two-man midfield tasked to protect a four-man defence!
Out wide, Ritchie may be seen as someone who can put palls into the box and offer some protection to Lewis, while Murphy’s impressive cameo from the bench at Arsenal last weekend makes me wonder if Bruce will give him a chance from the off here.
Up top, Wilson is nailed on and he could well be joined by Carroll. The latter had his best game in a black and white shirt for many a year in the FA Cup clash and will be gunning to make up for those misses that could and should have sent us through on another day.