After playing newly-promoted Nottingham Forest off the park last Saturday, Eddie Howe’s Mags travel to to the South Coast this weekend to take on Brighton.
The return of Dan Burn and a battle between two of THE best managers outside the ‘big six’, which promises to be a fascinating one when you consider our new style of play.
Having dominated the ball against Forest, it will be interesting to see if we can impose that same approach on a Brighton side who also push up the pitch and look to enjoy sustained periods of possession.
There’s no doubting how good we were last weekend – our work on and off the ball, intense pressing, crisp passing and urgency from the first minute to the last was a joy to watch – however this will be a much tougher test against a well-drilled team who beat Man Utd at Old Trafford in their opening game.
One area we must improve on is our final pass and finishing. Had we got that right against Forest, they’d have been out of sight at half-time. We weren’t punished in the end and still went on to win comfortably, but showing that killer instinct in the final third could be the difference in this one.
We’ve never beaten the Seagulls in a Premier League game at The Amex, losing twice and drawing on three occasions, but records are there to be broken by this new-look Newcastle United who finally look a fit, confident and well-organised side with an ever-evolving style of play under Eddie Howe.
The hosts looked good last weekend and are often tough to beat, but with summer exits for Marc Cucurella and Yves Bissouma leaving Potter’s side weakened in two key areas, there’s no reason why we can’t come away with another three points here!
Sky Sports’ Keith Downie revealed on Friday night that Nick Pope is now an injury doubt, meaning Martin Dubravka may now start in goal should our 6ft 6′ summer signing fail to recover in time.
Jonjo Shelvey (hamstring) has been ruled out for 12 weeks, while this game is likely to come too soon for Jamal Lewis, Federico Fernandez and Javier Manquillo once again.
Emil Krafth could miss out with tightness in his hamstring, but Jamaal Lascelles is expected to return to the squad.
For Brighton, Jakub Moder is the only senior player unavailable for the hosts. Graham Potter may well stick with the side that beat Man Utd last Sunday, although some wonder if Tariq Lamptey could start at right wing-back.
Predicted line ups
(4-3-3): Dubravka – Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett – Willock, Guimaraes, Joelinton – Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin.
I was expecting Eddie Howe to go with an unchanged side, until a Friday night update from Keith Downie revealed that Nick Pope is a ‘doubt’ after picking up a late injury. With that in mind, it seems Martin Dubravka may now start.
It won’t be long until Sven Botman is starting every week and showing the Premier League what a silky young centre-back he really is, but Dan Burn and Fabian Schar have barely put a foot wrong. The Blyth-born giant made defending look easy against Forest and will be keen to keep his place against his former club, while Schar showed his quality once again with a stunning strike to open the deadlock.
In midfield, Howe will hand chances to Sean Longstaff in time – especially now Jonjo Shelvey is out until December – but there’s no reason to change that dynamic threesome of Bruno Guimaraes, Joe Willock and Joelinton that worked so well against Forest. Saying that, this will be a greater test of Bruno’s discipline in that deep role, as I suspect we may have less of the ball and more defending to do this time around.
In attack, we’ll hopefully see Allan Saint-Maximin and Callum Wilson pick up from where they left off. The former showed so many promising signs against Forest, looking fitter, working harder, making better runs and improved decisions on the ball, while Wilson will be after more goals to boost his World Cup hopes. Almiron was a livewire and created a few big chances, however a couple of missed chances or miscued final balls perhaps explained why Eddie Howe remains in the market for a goalscoring right winger?
Predicted Brighton XI: (3-5-1-1): Veltman, Dunk, Webster – Lamptey, Gross, Mac Allister, Caicedo, Trossard – Lallana – Welbeck.
One to watch: Moises Caicedo – Lamptey will be a huge threat down the right if he is recalled, but I’ve gone for the 20-year-old Ecuadorian. He was linked with a move to Tyneside before joining Brighton and is the man Potter has trusted to replace Yves Bissouma. A box-to-box midfielder who looks to have a little bit of everything. Hopefully our Brazilian boys have too much for the young South American!
As stated earlier in the piece, I see this being a fascinating battle of two sides who’ll look to keep the ball, press and create overloads out wide.
A part of me thinks we’ll keep the run going with another big win and clean sheet, but I’m going with a low scoring draw.
Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Newcastle