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Opinion

Newcastle team v West Ham with my 4 changes – Gloves are off

2 weeks ago
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Only a couple of days time and I am looking forward to seeing this Newcastle team v West Ham.

A lot of factors coming together for surely Steve Bruce to at last put out what I would argue is the best eleven available.

Although I do accept that is a bit of a radical concept for our NUFC Head Coach.

The visitors are flying high in fourth place, a fantastic turn around by David Moyes, never been his biggest fan but fair play to what they have accomplished so far.

The Hammers are real competitors for a Champions League place but you have to go down to 12th placed Wolves to find a team that has won fewer PL away games this season, whilst on the other hand only champions-elect Man City have won more PL home games than Moyes and his team.

It looks daunting when you take into account only three defeats in seventeen Premier League matches these past four months for West Ham, compared to only three wins in their last twenty two games (all competitions) for Newcastle.

However, West Ham have a fair few injuries and whilst picking up two wins and a draw in their last three PL matches, the Hammers have conceded seven goals in those three games.

The message surely has to be, Newcastle need to attack from the first whistle to give themselves their best chance of getting a positive result, that also means of course putting the best players on the pitch to achieve that.

Only a massive fool would believe that last Sunday was a good performance by Newcastle United. A great one from ASM for sure…but the rest of them? Dubravka with a great display in goal to keep Newcastle in it BUT truth be told, Burnley totally on top until ASM arrived and should have been two or three up and the game gone.

So, I think a big mistake if going with anything like the same team selection and tactics / formation as last week.

Let’s dust ourselves down, take those gloves off, then get at this West Ham team.

Martin Dubravka in goal of course, only one defeat in six since he came back into the team.

I would scrap the back five system though, worked well for the Spurs match but not against Burnley, plus we need to accommodate different players, in my opinion, further forward in the team.

Lascelles and Schar are injured, Krafth not fit for purpose, and playing Fernandez with two left footers in Clark and Dummett as three centre-backs didn’t really work last weekend.

I think Fernandez and Clark as a pairing in the middle will give Newcastle a far more solid base.

Manquillo needs to come in as right-back as neither Krafth or Murphy can defend, a bit harsh on Murphy because he is going to be my main casualty, but I think he only really has a chance of a place in the NUFC team when we play with wing-backs.

On the left, I think Paul Dummett has been struggling a bit, particularly pace-wise, and against a lively West Ham attacking side that has scored 51 goals so far, I would give Jamal Lewis the opportunity to come back in and play left-back. The two centre-backs are not the quickest and Manquillo and Lewis can help provide good cover, especially if, as I hope, Newcastle push forward more.

I think Sean Longstaff has done ok recently after returning to the side and that is despite the handicap of a strolling Shelvey alongside him.

How on earth Shelvey keeps his place is beyond me and after bringing in a mobile box to box midfielder in January who gets goals, it is a travesty that Shelvey is keeping Willock out of the team. Get Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock together in the engine room and get the team further up the pitch and provide a platform for the attacking players to prosper.

Callum Wilson was clearly not fully fit as a sub last weekend but another week of training and on Saturday he will be hoping to complete a scoring and winning double against West Ham this season.

Then behind him a trio that can contribute various strengths.

Giving Allan Saint-Maximin a central / free role looks a no-brainer, especially after the damage he did at Burnley. Get him on the ball and running at the heart of the Hammers defence.

In behind / out wide, Ritchie and Almiron can put both the graft in and the attacking support for ASM and Wilson.

Good to see an improvement on Ritchie’s crossing and set-pieces since his return, thankfully we would also see him not having to give way to Shelvey either, who has been woeful this season even in dead ball situations, let alone those bits where we should expect him to run around.

This then gives me this Newcastle team v West Ham, featuring four changes from the Burnley starting eleven:

With those six in midfield and up front, Newcastle could really press the opposition for once and in my opinion, reap the rewards. Now six points clear of relegation and a game in hand, negativity has to be removed from Steve Bruce’s team selection, especially when I think attack will be the best form of defence for NUFC this weekend.

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