Few inside St James’ Park will be expecting a result against Chelsea this weekend, but you just never know in the weird and wonderful world of football.
We hung on for a point at Crystal Palace last Saturday and will need to be better if we’re to get a surprise result in this one, so what changes could Graeme Jones make ahead of our meeting with the current European Champions?
Here’s five we think would make a big difference to this struggling NUFC side:
Martin Dubravka in for Karl Darlow
Darlow is a good shot stopper who has rarely let us down when called upon over the last few seasons, but I believe Dubravka’s ability to bark out orders and organise the defence in front of him has been a big miss. He’s been back in training for a few weeks now and should come back into the side, for me.
Fabian Schar for Emil Krafth
The Swiss international must be wondering how on earth Sweden’s second choice right-back is getting in ahead of him – especially now we’ve switched back to a five-man defence. His composure on the ball could be needed given how sloppy we were last weekend, not to mention the fact his searching passes from deep could help release the likes of ASM, Wilson or Almiron on the counter.
Federico Fernandez for Ciaran Clark
He may be entering the twilight years of his career, but I can’t understand why the usually reliable Argentine has been dropped. Fernandez remains one of our better defenders – albeit from a pretty bad bunch – and should be replacing an out of sorts Ciaran Clark; who has been bullied by Kane and Benteke over the past two games.
Joe Willock for Sean Longstaff
Our summer signing hasn’t quite hit the heights he reached during his loan spell last season, however he’s another who is wasted on the bench. Our midfield options are poor and he has the sort of pace, energy and goal threat needed to unsettle a usually solid Chelsea side.
Miguel Almiron for Ryan Fraser
If the Palace game was Fraser’s audition to keep his place in the starting line up, he wouldn’t be getting the job. He has quality and regularly assisted Wilson during his Bournemouth days, but we just haven’t seen that so far. As for Almiron, his work rate, discipline and ability to break with pace could be key at both ends of the pitch this weekend, with us needing to track Chelsea’s marauding wing-backs and exploit the space they leave in behind when possible.
What changes would you like to see Graeme Jones make this weekend?