This is the debate Newcastle fans should be having today – Not Diame v Mitrovic
Newcastle fans need to stop the debate about Aleksandar Mitrovic and the dream of him linking up with Dwight Gayle.
Two and a half months into the season and Rafa Benitez hasn’t started the two of them together once.
What is more, he has made absolutely clear before the Brentford game that it is not going to happen:
“I know everybody says: ‘Why don’t you play with two strikers?’ but it depends on the rest of the team at the same time.
“Can you control the game, control the midfield, without this second striker?
“You might be more dangerous with two strikers but you then have less power and control in the middle.”
It is the Rafa Benitez way, whether 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, he plays with one striker and has pretty much always done in the past at his previous clubs.
Maybe the argument should be more about whether Mohamed Diame is capable of doing that job in behind Dwight Gayle and if not, should Rafa be looking for somebody to buy in January to do it better?
Anyway, I digress.
The big debate Newcastle fans should be having is about the supply to the strikers, rather than who that front two should be.
Jonjo Shelvey is an obvious choice to continue in the middle and the only choice is whether it is Colback or Hayden as the defensive partner.
The main debate therefore is which two of Gouffran, Atsu and Ritchie should play today. All three of them arguably deserve a place but that is not going to happen.
Atsu was man of the match and match winner in Newcastle’s last game, Ritchie has been player of the season so far, whilst Gouffran has been reborn in this division and a key player.
If it was an away game then I might be tempted to pick Gouffran and one of the other two on the other side of the pitch but we aren’t away from home.
With the emphasis on United to break down Brentford I would be tempted to play both Ritchie and Atsu, with Gouffran making way. Maybe if you didn’t have an out and out defender like Paul Dummett at left-back it wouldn’t make so much difference but with a right-footed Gouffran in front of him who then tends to move inside, it makes Newcastle far too predictable going forward and reliant on the right hand side.
With Christian Atsu in front of Dummett, you could then simply have the Geordie defender giving the ball to the winger who can then use his pace to have a go at the right-back, without any expectation of support from Dummett.
After an hour or so you could always bring Gouffran on for a probably exhausted Atsu and give Newcastle a different look and other options.
I just think that rightly or wrongly, if Rafa doesn’t see two up front as an option, then at least at home he has to be looking at other options to get the opposition on the back foot.
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