This more attacking team best form of defence for Newcastle at Huddersfield?
Going back to Huddersfield v Newcastle in March, it was a Rafa Benitez master class in outmaneuvering David Wagner.
The Terriers carried little threat at the sharp end despite being able to produce impressive passing moves in non-threatening positions.
The 3-1 win for the Magpies may have looked at odds with the possession stats (76% v 24%) but when it came to clear chances on goal, Newcastle were well worth their three whilst Karl Darlow had little to deal with in terms of serious attempts on goal.
Last season, despite being the main threat to Brighton and Newcastle for most of the season, Huddersfield only scored 56 goals in 46 games, Newcastle scored 85. In fact only one team in the top 12 scored less than Huddersfield and even fourth bottom Forest scored more.
Last Saturday though suggested that Huddersfield may well have improved in their attacking threat, with Tom Ince and especially Steve Mounie added.
The team maybe also set up slightly differently with more of an attacking emphasis, understanding that it will be very difficult to avoid leaking a certain number of goals, so Wagner needs to make sure his team do a lot more at the other end of the pitch.
Rafa Benitez had little option but to go for a more containing formation/selection against Tottenham but today maybe he needs to see attack as his best form of defence.
Not a case of being totally open but I really fail to see us getting anything at Huddersfield if those 76/24 possession stats are anything near similar this time.
Shelvey’s absence means a shake-up anyway in how Newcastle can threaten the opposition and for me Rafa has to go with Mikel Merino, who in brief appearances has already shown he can offer far more than Colback or Diame. The Spaniard may only be 21 and have little (two starts) experience in a top division but his ability to keep the ball and pass it forward looks on another level to the other two.
I think Rafa should also be brave and throw Joselu straight into the action. He looks hard working and as well as being a target man I fail to see how he would do less defensive work than Ayoze Perez.
Gayle put in a lot of work last week against Spurs and no reason to think both he and Joselu can’t play together. They don’t have to be a traditional front two and can take turns at working back to help combat Huddersfield.
Last season Daryl Murphy played and scored at Huddersfield and offered Rafa the option of playing the long ball at times, Joselu could do the same today and who knows what may spark between him and Gayle?
All things considered, I think this more attacking, but still hard working, team can give Newcastle the best chance today:
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])
If you would like to feature on The Mag, submit your article to [email protected]