Friday morning brought great news that Eddie Howe will be in the dugout as Newcastle United manager for the first time today.
It is a shame he wasn’t at St James’ Park last week, but his presence will be a huge positive at the Emirates Stadium. We haven’t won there in a long time and having our manager in the dugout will give us a better chance of breaking that run.
Below we predict the starting eleven for today’s early kick off:
Martin Dubravka – It is now time for the number one to come back into the team. Although I would have played him last week, I understand why Eddie Howe wanted to trust Karl Darlow after working with him during the international break. If he makes the same decision tomorrow, it will be a huge mistake. We are a better defensive unit when we have Dubravka in goal. He needs to play.
Fabian Schar – Given his ball playing ability, it is likely Schar will keep his place. I can see Howe playing the same back three in the hope of building some confidence and chemistry within the trio.
Jamaal Lascelles – The captain scored last weekend, but he needs to improve at the back. He has regressed a lot over the last two years. It is now time for him to get back to his best. If Dubravka does play, it will take some of the pressure off Lascelles to organise the back line.
Ciaran Clark – He is a player that will be replaced in the long term, as he isn’t good enough. However, he was a little bit better last weekend and he is a left footed option that provides balance to the defence. This is especially important if we are playing out from the back.
Javier Manquillo – This is the second change I expect to see. Murphy was caught out on several occasions last weekend and Arsenal have more talent in attack. Manquillo will provide more balance to the team. He does carry a threat going forward too, albeit not as big as Murphy.
Joe Willock – It will be a huge occasion for Willock, as he returns to the club where he was developed. He will feel he has a point to prove and this could be a chance for him to kickstart his season. Willock’s energy is key to Howe’s system.
Jonjo Shelvey – There seems to be a new determination in Shelvey following the managerial change. Howe has clearly stated that Shelvey will be a key player for him and the midfielder delivered his best performance of 2021 last weekend. His passing range will be key if we are to get a result on Saturday.
Matt Ritchie – It will be interesting to see how long Ritchie stays in the team, as the energy and athleticism of Jamal Lewis would be useful to the current formation. Last weekend, Ritchie and Allan Saint-Maximin didn’t click down the left. His set piece delivery will be important this weekend.
Joelinton – Last weekend, there will have been some annoyance among some sections of the fans that Joelinton was in the starting eleven. There won’t be any this weekend, as the Brazilian was superb against Brentford. He deserves to stay in the team.
Callum Wilson – He didn’t get on the scoresheet last weekend, but Wilson was a constant threat to Brentford. The striker had two great chances to score and if we continue to give him service, he will get goals. He could really bully Gabriel and Ben White this weekend.
Allan Saint-Maximin – Like Shelvey, Saint-Maximin may have delivered his most complete performance of the calendar year last weekend. He was constantly getting shots on goal and causing chaos with his movement. If we continue to get him the ball in the final third, he will make things happen.
Darlow and Murphy OUT, Dubravka and Manquillo in?