After injury update this needs to be the Newcastle team v Wolves
All eyes are now on the Newcastle team v Wolves.
Steve Bruce going into the weekend with his team back in the relegation zone.
However, I think Sunday is an ideal time to start turning this around.
For that to happen I think we need a change in team selection and formation/tactics, particularly in making Newcastle more of an attacking threat.
In some ways, the fates may be conspiring to help change the team dynamic and selection.
Thursday morning bringing news that Fabian Schar is set to miss out on Sunday as he picked up a knee injury at Chelsea. Reports in the local media say that the defender is being assessed ahead of the game but surely if there is any doubt, then he shouldn’t be risked.
Whilst it is gutting to lose your best player, I think ironically it could help push Steve Bruce into picking a more attacking team against Wolves.
The stats have been appalling this season when it comes to Newcastle scoring goals, having possession, creating chances, touching the ball in the opposition in opposition penalty area, winning corners and so on.
It would have been very difficult for Steve Bruce to leave out any one of Schar, Lascelles and Clark but with the Swiss defender set to miss, an ideal time to revert to a back four and put the emphasis on attack.
Rafa Benitez managed to do both things last season, playing with five at the back and the final 13 games of last season bringing 21 points and 21 goals. Indeed the form in the final 16 games of last season was fifth best in the Premier League and even over the final 28 games it was eighth best.
However, Steve Bruce is struggling to come up with any kind of a convincing formation that is going to create chances/goals, so time for him to revert to a more traditional 4-4-2/4-4-1-1.
Matt Ritchie and Florian Lejuene have been pictured in training this week but even if they were available, surely it will be the subs bench at very best after their injuries.
At the back obviously I would keep Dubravka in goal and then in a back four, you have Clark and Lascelles keeping their places. The pair have played really well together in the past and I think Newcastle need to veer away from playing a third centre-back, at least for the time being, certainly until Lejeune and/or Schar are available anyway.
Yedlin would be on the right and then on the left I would bring back Paul Dummett. With a more attacking emphasis further up the pitch, it makes sense to have an out and out defender, rather than say Willems who looks decent at times going forward but poor as a defender.
I would keep the Longstaffs together in midfield, at least until Isaac Hayden is available the following game at West Ham.
As for the wide players, Allan Saint-Maximin is a natural to play on the right whilst on the left, Miguel Almiron at times played left wing/midfield for Rafa last season with Dummett behind him, so no issues playing him there. With Dummett preferring to stay back, that gives Almiron more freedom to get forward and come inside at times to support the forwards.
The biggest call for me is that I think it is well worth pairing up Joelinton and Dwight Gayle.
Both of them work hard and are prepared to track back, Gayle would perhaps play furthest forward in this formation as last season Joelinton was happy playing as a second striker or wide in an attacking trio for Hoffenheim. The Longstaffs can sit in and provide defensive cover with Almiron and ASM getting forward to support the strikers.
Which gives me this Newcastle team v Wolves to give hopefully a far better attacking edge:
Here’s hoping whatever the team selection and tactics/formation, it proves to be a winning one.
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