Norwich (H) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

When there’s still 25 games remaining and 75 points left to play for, it may seem odd calling the upcoming match a ‘must-win’.

In truth, this really does feel like one. We have to beat Norwich if we’re going to stay up this season.

OK, we could draw this, beat Burnley on Saturday and still stay up. However, with the fixtures that look set to follow over the festive period, it’s so important we win this one to not only close the gap but boost some pretty low confidence levels within the squad.

The good news is it’s going to be a brilliant atmosphere under the lights and our first opportunity to give Eddie Howe a big Geordie welcome at St James’ Park – two factors that could help the new manager bounce we’ve all been waiting for on Tyneside.

On the flip side, Saturday’s display at Arsenal was far too passive and full of more defensive mistakes, meanwhile Norwich followed back-to-back wins with a solid point against Wolves.

They no longer come into this looking like the Premier League’s whipping boys, looking a much more competitive side since Dean Smith has taken over.

Saying that, if we can up our intensity, be braver on the ball and put in the sort of attacking display that saw us put three past the a solid Brentford side, I have faith this will be our first win of the season and potential turning point.

Team news

Both Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie are suspended, having picked up their fifth yellow cards of the season in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Arsenal.

Dwight Gayle could return from a hamstring complaint, but Paul Dummett and Elliot Anderson look set to miss out through injury.

As for the visitors, summer signing and star midfielder Mathias Normann has been ruled out with a pelvic injury, while one-time Toon target Ozan Kabak could also miss out again.

Predicted line ups

(3-4-2-1): Dubravka – Krafth, Fernandez, Schar – Murphy, Shelvey, Hayden, Fraser – Joelinton, Saint-Maximin – Wilson.

(4-3-3): Krul – Aarons, Hanley, Gibson, Williams – McLean, Rupp, Gilmour – Sargent, Pukki, Rashica.

He may have been left out of our last FIVE matchday squads, but I’m backing Federico Fernandez to return for this one.

Howe and Tindall have talked up his professionalism, so there’s clearly been no rift, and he’s best suited to playing in the middle of a three-man defence – making him the ideal replacement for the suspended Jamaal Lascelles.

I’m not a fan of Krafth – who switched off for Saka’s goal at Arsenal – but he may keep him in the side and stick with Schar on the left-hand side of the back three to avoid making too many changes in that area.

I say a ‘back three’ because I see it being exactly that here. I can see Murphy coming in at wing-back and Fraser starting down the other side to give us two advanced options down the flanks.

Jamal Lewis is being tipped to start against his former club down the left, however he’s played six minutes of football all season. Not only that, it seemed telling to me that Fraser moved to LWB towards the end of Saturday’s game, making him the most likely Ritchie replacement in my eyes.

Saying that, Lewis will surely start if Howe opts for a four-man defence – unless Manquillo makes a rare appearance at left-back with Krafth on the right.

Sticking with my predicted XI, I think we could see Isaac Hayden replace Joe Willock. The latter’s eagerness to get forward sometimes leaves big gaps between midfield and defence, so Hayden could slot in here to give our defence that bit of cover while others bomb forward.

In attack, I want to see Almiron return but equally struggle to see where he fits, meaning Joelinton and Saint-Maximin should start either side of Callum Wilson – who is one booking away from being a ban himself.

Match prediction

Saturday was a reality check for Howe and sobering moment for anyone expecting some huge new manager bounce, yet I do come into this with real hope.

It’s Howe’s first proper game at St James’ Park, it’s under the lights and it’s against a Norwich side who we can definitely beat if we play like we did in our last home game.

My one big worry is how the players will cope knowing it really is a must-win game and the biggest opportunity we’ll get to end this awful run of form.

The pressure is on and Norwich arrive in much better form, however I think we’ll learn from last weekend’s passive display, push higher up the pitch and see Wilson score a couple in a much needed win.

Prediction: Newcastle 3-1 Norwich

HOWAY THE LADS!

About Olly Hawkins

Olly has been a Junior Magpie from birth. As a season ticket holder and avid Newcastle United fan, he eats, sleeps and breathes all things NUFC!

41 thoughts on “Norwich (H) Pre-match thoughts, team news, possible line-ups & score prediction

  1. Very strange team there Olly. Donkey will be out and Willock will be in.

    We will play 4-3-3:

    Dubs

    Manquillo Fernandez Schar Lewis

    Hayden Shelvey Willock

    Miggy Wilson ASM

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  2. Kim – from the previous blog. Firstly, sorry to hear Lewis is unwell, hope his test is negative & he’s feeling better soon 🤞🏼.

    Secondly, I hope you’re right but I just don’t think so at the moment. The main reason being we are SO far behind those clubs thanks to Ashley, that our bright future is still probably 2 or 3 seasons away.
    Our squad is weak, our training ground awful and our stadium needs some hefty repairs.

    I hope we’d bounce straight back up, but so did Leeds.

    I really hope we sign Tarkowski for example – but the lad is 29. If WHU came in for him (they are 4th) or Wolves (at 6th) – would he want to drop to the Championship next season when he might get Europe with one of them. It would probably be his last chance of his career – plus, the WC next summer. He could kiss his chances of that squad goodbye in the Championship with us.

    Take those comments and repeat for Trippier, Lingard and Coady.

    This is why we desperately need a DoF in place who knows what they are doing – and quick!!.

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  3. Eric+Sykes:
    Very strange team there Olly. Donkey will be out and Willock will be in.

    We will play 4-3-3:

    Dubs

    ManquilloFernandezSchar Lewis

    Hayden Shelvey Willock

    Miggy Wilson ASM

    Stand by my reasons. Remember though, it’s what I think we’ll play, not so much what I WANT us to play.

    Your team would be good!

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  4. I know you put the team up that you think we will play Olly mate. It is hard to predict with a new manager. The Jones teams were impossible to predict !

    I reckon Rafa will be sacked. Just something I feel because the Blue Bindippers will force him out, and perhaps deservedly so if he only gets 2 or 3 points from ten games which I fear will happen.

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  5. Eric+Sykes:
    I know you put the team up that you think we will play Olly mate. It is hard to predict with a new manager. The Jones teams were impossible to predict !

    I reckon Rafa will be sacked. Just something I feel because the Blue Bindippers will force him out, and perhaps deservedly so if he only gets 2 or 3 points from ten games which I fear will happen.

    Eric – I think Rafa will take the approach he used to with us – sit back, park the bus and less than 30% possession. It won’t work & I see at least 3-0 to Lpool – and you’re right, the toffees will turn on him big time.
    I see Big Dunc then getting it til the end of the season at the very least.

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  6. The biggest headache picking our 11 is LB – Ritchie isn’t good enough there as hard as he tries, and Lewis isn’t getting picked ahead of him – so that suggests to me he’s either not good enough, or not ready.

    So what’s the other options?!. Well we could put Manquillo at LB, but he’s not naturally left footed. He’d be better defensively though I think.

    The only other option I can think of is putting Clark at LB – but he doesn’t have the legs to get up & down so our defence would have to be a flat back 4 really – but that may not be such a bad thing really.

    Either would mean 4 at the back:

    Krafth – Schar – Fernandez – Manq

    Or

    Manq – Schar – Fernandez – Clark

    Neither ideal, but we don’t have a LB that I have any real confidence in. But playing a back 4 id the play 4-2-1-3

    —— Shelvey —— Hayden ——-
    ————-— Almiron —————-
    Murphy —- Wilson —- St. Max

    I like Murphy and think he can be a threat down the right. I think having Murphy & Almiron in the side gives you the legs & workrate in the team too.

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  7. I don’t think it’s a overstatement to say this is our biggest game of the whole season. I think if we win tonight we win on Saturday and that means we’re back in the game.

    I think Lewis will come back in at left back and Fernandez for Lascelles. Question is does he get Almiron, Wilson, ASM and Joelinton into the team?

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  8. Lewis is the only nature LB that we have in the squad – but Bruce, Jones and now Howe didn’t/don’t put him in. I know Howe has only had 2 games, but he’s put Ritchie in there whilst still experimenting with his RWB – playing Murphy then Fraser.

    Ideally I’d have Manq RB, Schar and Fernandez CB and Lewis LB.

    I’d try it. There’s nowt lost – it can’t be worse that’s for sure!!.

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  9. If we fail to win either of these next two games, I think we are down. I don’t see a way back for us as the damage was done early on by Ashley, Bruce, biased refereeing and a team just not good enough.

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  10. Heart says win head says draw at best, we have zero confidence at the back and more worrying is Wilson seems to be dropping off in form.

    On a positive note Lews PCR test was negative 😀

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  11. I said at the weekend that contracts should be torn up – Clark’s was already on that list, but he’s just gone TOP!!.

    What an absolute bloody idiot!!.

    Should never have been on with Fernandez fit though. But once the manager has put that faith & loyalty to you – to go and do that!!.

    Get rid.

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  12. Yes he gave away the ball, maybe we go 1 down, but by bringing him down we are in a whole heap of trouble. We could recover from a goal down if we had to. With ten men for a whole game it’s an almost impossible task. Disaster. He could’ve just relegated us.

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  13. Well we’ve battled pretty well since that moron got himself sent off – but it’s the same old story – poor finishing!!.

    We aren’t going to get many chance & the few we’ve had so far, we couldn’t hit the target.

    We’ve got to keep going, but make more from our chances.

    I’d give a kidney for a 1-0 win off Joelintons backside right now.

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  14. Gilly Toon:
    Yes he gave away the ball, maybe we go 1 down, but by bringing him down we are in a whole heap of trouble. We could recover from a goal down if we had to. With ten men for a whole game it’s an almost impossible task. Disaster. He could’ve just relegated us.

    Gilly – we are 10 men with that clampit on the pitch anyway mate.

    I don’t understand why he’s getting picked ahead of Fernandez anyway.

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  15. I am happier with our full backs mind. I think Manquillo & Lewis have done pretty well in the first half.

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  16. Another draw. We so needed that win tonight… desperate now. I think we are down. Joelinton and Lewis played really well today. Clark must never get near our team again. I would not even let him make the tea. He cost us the win tonight.

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  17. point not really enough is it, such a missed opportunity, with 11 we would of won i am certain. Norwich only really started trying in the last 20 mins.

    Watching Leeds now

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  18. Really proud of those 10 players tonight. They never stopped trying.

    Can’t complain too much for their goal – quality play really & a top finish.

    Joelinton though – our new DCM I reckon!! The lad worked his socks off tonight – he was excellent.

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  19. Mark Douglas
    @MsiDouglas
    Ciaran Clark was signed by Rafa Benitez in 2016 to get #nufc promoted from the Championship. That he’s still playing five years later tells you why #nufc are in this position.*

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  20. Nowt like a final boot in the gut is there!!! Stoppage time pen for Leeds 🤦🏼‍♂️.

    We desperately need a favour from Wolves tomorrow 🤞🏼🤞🏼. If not, then the rest of the season is playing for pride I reckon.

    I’m still steaming with Clark – but I’m also annoyed he was in the team when Fernandez was fit. Schar nearly balls it up at the end as well.

    Our CBs aren’t close to being good enough.

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  21. Sharpy17:
    Really proud of those 10 players tonight.They never stopped trying.

    Can’t complain too much for their goal – quality play really & a top finish.

    Joelinton though – our new DCM I reckon!! The lad worked his socks off tonight – he was excellent.

    He played well as a Defensive mid! He has been our best player in 2 of our last 3 games. I might even stop giving him a hard time if this keeps up. And lewis was great.

    Some stallar performances after an idiot let us down.

    I thought Dubs was magnificent.

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