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Opinion

This Newcastle United formation change needed until injuries clear up

4 months ago
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There is no denying that looked far more threatening when they first switched to their current 4-3-1-2 Newcastle United formation.

We appeared to have found a system that married resolute defence with dynamic attack – but then injuries struck.

Newcastle remain without Wilson, Saint-Maximin and Almiron until April at the earliest and this trio were the key to our attacking threat in the 4-3-1-2 formation.

The players who have replaced them in recent weeks, combinations of Gayle, Fraser, Joelinton and Willock, have struggled to gel and have been far less effective.

Friday’s performance against an Aston Villa side lacking Jack Grealish was once again largely underwhelming. Yes, we were better than the match against West Brom, but to be honest, it couldn’t have got any worse than that afternoon at The Hawthorns!

The current system has also made us more resolute defensively; since our switch to this Newcastle United formation for the away win at Everton, NUFC have conceded 11 goals in eight games in the Premier League. This compares to conceding 36 goals in 20 games prior to our visit to Goodison Park.

Steve Bruce has regularly reiterated his desire to remain with the system as ‘the way forward for us’…however, with the lack of fluidity in recent weeks, could we perhaps revert to a different Newcastle United formation until the injuries clear up?

Andy Carroll showed on Friday that he can still be a handful in the opposition box, even if it was just for five minutes. The need for Carroll to join the action was apparent for much of the second half; he should have been introduced far earlier.

Newcastle spent much of the game against Aston Villa exploiting the channels and delivering crosses into the area. Surely if this is plan, the biggest aerial threat should be on the pitch?

Carroll simply doesn’t have the engine to play as one of the split strikers and Joelinton and Gayle were the correct choices for Bruce’s preferred formation and out of the personnel available, in my opinion.

However, as the crosses continued to accumulate, the need for a striker in and around the  six yard box became incredibly apparent. If we had lined up with two wingers either side of a striker, we may have been able to make more of these deliveries.

By having wingers on the pitch and an effective aerial threat, it offers a route of attack that the current narrow system with split strikers doesn’t.

A shift to a Newcastle United formation with more width could increase our chances in this next key match against Brighton, the final game of this ‘winnable’ run Bruce spoke of. A run that so far has yielded just three points from the three matches.

With it seemingly a three-way fight for the final relegation spot, Brighton, the visit to the Amex next Saturday is all the more vital for Newcastle if they are to avoid finishing below Fulham and Graham Potter’s side.

A desperate need for points, especially with the tough schedule after the international break. The lack of fluidity in Newcastle’s attacking play since Almiron, Wilson and Saint-Maximin got injured does not exactly fill fans with confidence ahead of this massive match on the south coast.

Steve Bruce needs to play to the strengths of the players he has available now, which I think lies in a wider formation.

This is by no means the long-term answer, as we have seen improvement in a 4-3-1-2 with a fully fit side, but an alternative Newcastle United formation should definitely be explored as a short-term option now.

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