I think there has to be a major change of direction with the Newcastle team v Arsenal.
Steve McClaren himself, said that he would have to make full use of his squad over the festive period, only to then name exactly the same team at West Brom which had lost to Everton less than 44 hours earlier.
Of course Rob Elliot then fell ill just before kick-off and Newcastle were allowed to replace him with Karl Darlow.
It is a no-brainer for Elliot to come back in but with Steve McClaren revealing that he’d had to send Rob Elliot home from training this week, it looks like there will be no option to go with Darlow again, despite his very nervous performance being topped by the error that gave West Brom their winner.
Elsewhere though, this is the time to make changes that can lift both team and supporters, plus give us a far better chance of picking up points.
Steve McClaren says it is only luck that is missing but when you have only 16 shots on target in your last eight games, as Newcastle have done, then you have to surely put out a different selection/formation with at least some goal threat.
Arsenal’s attacking prowess is obvious with only two teams having scored more, but Southampton’s four goals only six days ago, showed they aren’t that great at the back.
The Gunners have great pace and mobility so one change in defence for me would be to bring Kevin Mbabu back in. He showed he wasn’t overawed against Chelsea & Man City and he has far more chance than the sluggish Paul Dummett of coping with the pace and mobility Arsenal will have, plus Mbabu showed he can also contribute going forward.
I was tempted to make a second change at the back and play Paul Dummett at centre-back, this covers up his lack of pace a bit more and he is far better than Coloccini in the air, which may be of use with Giroud almost certainly lining up for Arsenal. However, Coloccini has been a little bit better recently and maybe is creating at least a little bit of understanding with the excellent Chancel Mbemba.
At the top end of the pitch Aleksandar Mitrovic has to start and then just as importantly, he must be given the service.
There was at least some sign of promise when Florian Thavin came on against Villa but McClaren has bizarrely only give him a few minutes against both Everton and West Brom.
He has to be given a start sometime soon and why not against Arsenal where nobody (probably including McClaren) gives us the faintest chance?
To accommodate him I’d go with Colback in front of the back four but stay away from Cheick Tiote, he was decent four years ago but now is just a liability.
Instead I’d bring both Wijnaldum and Sissoko into the middle of the pitch where they can have far more influence. Their pace and stamina can help United compete with the talented opposition and also help Newcastle turn defence into attack quickly.
On the left I’d have Ayoze Perez who is so versatile he can contribute wherever you play him.
It will obviously be tough whatever team is selected, but I think at least this line-up gives Newcastle the chance of a fresh start in the new year, and why not gamble that a more attacking team can relieve the usual constant pressure on the defence that Steve McClaren invites with his negative mindset?
My Newcastle team v Arsenal:
To create the image above I used the NUFC team selector.
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When using the NUFC team selector you simply click on what team formation (4-3-3, 4-4-2 etc) you want, then click each position on the pitch and choose from the Newcastle United squad.
Go to the NUFC team selector now and choose and share your Newcastle team v Arsenal.
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