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Opinion

Newcastle team v Liverpool – My selection for Saturday at Anfield

5 months ago
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After back to back wins, you could almost be forgiven for looking at our team and thinking we’re pretty much safe at this point.

That is barring a frankly miraculous / disastrous level of form being found by the Baggies or Fulham.

However, until Newcastle United are guaranteed to be safe, there should be no resting on laurels, so here’s my ideal Newcastle team v Liverpool at the weekend.

Goalkeeper – Dubravka

Pretty much a no brainer here.

Darlow performed far better than expected when called in to deputise, this leading to links with Watford for the forthcoming summer transfer window.

However, Martin Dubravka is still my nailed on number 1.

Centre backs – Dummett, Fernandez, Clark

Not really much of a choice to be made here, as Lascelles and Schar are still injured and Krafth is a liability at CB, so the three continue.

They’ve been pretty solid in the past few games, so hopefully they can frustrate what has been a misfiring Liverpool front three.

Wing backs – Ritchie and Murphy

Again, not a great deal of choice here, but that’s due to the great performances of these two in the past few games.

Ritchie works tremendously hard for the team and can put in a cracking cross, as seen for our late winner against West Ham.

Murphy has some great dribbling ability and can pull off a good shot too.

They’ll most likely have to be a lot more defensive and choose their moments on Saturday but hopefully will still produce some chances between them.

Midfield three – S. Longstaff, Almiron and Willock OR S.Longstaff, M. Longstaff and Willock

Ok, so to be honest, this one isn’t going to happen.

Shelvey is too much of Bruce’s special boy to lose out on a place and honestly, I can see Longstaff being the one to be dropped for Willock.

In fairness, Sean Longstaff was poor in the second half against West Ham, but against that, Shelvey has been poor in most games this season, including West Ham.

Steve Bruce has even said that the team plays well when he plays well, so basically,  unintentionally confirming he’s been woeful all season.

Another caveat is that if ASM does not pass fit, I’d like to see Almiron played in a higher role, just playing off the other striker. As while he is effective in disrupting play in the centre of the park with his workrate, he struggles to affect the game as much in the final third. If ASM is out of the team, I’d play my second choice noted above.

Strikers – ASM and Wilson OR Wilson and Almiron

Wilson is a guaranteed starter for me, after coming on for periods against both Burnley and West Ham (and almost scoring a great goal after skinning their defence in the closing moments,), he’s got enough sharpness back to be starting.

In a game where chances are likely to be at a premium, Joelinton can’t be relied upon to take advantage.

If ASM’s ankle issue is resolved by the weekend he’ll again be our difference maker, but if not I would play Almiron as a shadow striker/ second striker, using his workrate and pressing to harass the makeshift Liverpool centre-backs.

Overall, I think we’re probably going to set up for a draw here, and I think a draw is what we’ll get.

Am I being optimistic or pessimistic here?

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