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It would be nice if we could take control of our own destiny in this latest fight for survival…not spend our Saturday night hoping Fulham don’t beat Sheffield United (which they did!).
After all, we’ve seen Burnley and Brighton pick up huge wins over Liverpool of late, with West Brom also earning a point against Man Utd last weekend.
A lot is said about Fulham’s recent run of fixtures that’s helped them move to within THREE of ourselves, however this relegation battle is still well and truly in our own hands.
What I am saying is, we need to see a repeat of the confident and convincing performance that saw us beat Everton 2-0 last month – not that passive and defeatist display at Chelsea which stunk of a side who never believed they’d win before a ball was even kicked.
Yes we’ve been dealt a series of cruel injury blows, but there’d been signs of promise before Monday’s shoddy effort at Stamford Bridge. We can’t let that evaporate or hope that there’s simply three teams poorer than us – especially when we play twice before Scott Parker’s men travel to Palace.
It’s a sad existence, but I want to see us stay up convincingly – not be biting my nails every time I watch Fulham between now and May 23rd!
- Callum Wilson – Out with a hamstring injury.
- Fabian Schar – Out with a serious knee injury, but his operation has gone well.
- Javier Manquillo – Out with an ankle ligament injury, however Bruce says he’s responded well to treatment.
- Jeff Hendrick – Back from a one-game ban.
- Federico Fernandez – Back in training but not ready to return for this one. Should be back in the squad for the Wolves game next weekend.
For the hosts, Cavani and van de Beek look set for late fitness tests, McTominay is a ‘doubt’ and Pogba has been ruled out.
(4-3-1-2): Darlow – Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis – Willock, Hayden, Shelvey – Almiron – Fraser, Saint-Maximin.
Dwight Gayle OUT, Ryan Fraser IN?
I’d like to see two changes and Dubravka replacing Darlow, but Steve Bruce’s latest comments on the goalkeeping situation suggest he still believes the latter ‘deserves’ to keep his place between the sticks.
We could do with a more capable right-back than Krafth – especially when Rashford will be more than likely running at him – but with Yedlin sold and Manquillo injured, the Swede seems likely to continue. Murphy is an option but only tends to play when he’s a wing-back in a five man defence.
Shelvey’s lack of pace, energy or intensity is an ongoing concern, but Hendrick isn’t the answer and Bruce seems unlikely to hand either of the Longstaff brothers a sudden start – even if Matty probably deserves another shot in the side after doing little wrong before he was axed.
In attack, Fraser has to return. He created more chances in 20 minutes than any other Newcastle player did all night at Chelsea and was also a key cog in our 2-0 win at Everton. Saint-Maximin was very poor last time out, but I can see him and Fraser playing in wide forward roles, with Almiron drifting in between a No 10 and false No 9 role – giving us a trio that could hurt Man Utd on the counter.
I think we’ll learn from that passive first half at Stamford Bridge and get at them a bit more from the off, but that will be a risk reward approach.
This Man Utd side aren’t great defensively, however they can rip you apart at the other end if you commit too many bodies forward or leave gaps in behind.
I fancy us to take an early lead but ultimately struggle to cope with their attacking stars, with Krafth vs Rashford a scary prospect and the outstanding Bruno Fernandes also a player who could benefit from any lapses in concentration from the likes of Jonjo Shelvey.
Either way, we need to approach this one like a team who BELIEVE they could come away with a big result – not lie down and accept Man Utd are a “very good side”…something I’m sure Steve Bruce will remind us all when he speaks to BT Sport before the game!
Prediction: Man Utd 3-1 Newcastle