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Opinion

Predicted Newcastle team v Liverpool has two changes

6 days ago
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Looking ahead to this afternoon’s Newcastle team v Liverpool.

Steve Bruce comes into this game on the back of a twenty two game run with only four victories.

However, two of the four have also been the most recent pair of matches, giving Bruce the chance of his first run of three Premier League victories in a row since January 2009 when he was with Wigan.

Newcastle visit a Liverpool team experiencing a very strange back down to earth season, after picking up a remarkable 97 and 99 points in the previous two seasons, as well as Champions League triumph and Premier League title.

Until their recent 2-1 win against Villa at home, Liverpool had lost six in a row at Anfield and only scored once in over nine hours of PL football on home turf.

Amongst those to come to Anfield and win in this period were Brighton, Burnley and Fulham, all three keeping a clean sheet as well.

For Newcastle, they played ok in the first half last Saturday and were gifted a two goal lead and man advantage by half-time, only for then Steve Bruce to very bizarrely decide that against ten men the best idea was to defend deep for the entire second half. The ten men then dominated, scored twice and could have had more, only for Joe Willock to spring off the bench late on and save Brucey’s bacon.

Ahead of Saturday’s match, Steve Bruce gave an update on Friday on the injury and fitness front.

The Head Coach revealing that five Newcastle players miss Liverpool, with two of them having had operations.

Karl Darlow a knee operation and Ryan Fraser a groin one.

Fabian Schar is getting closer to a return but Bruce indicates Saturday will be too soon.

Whilst Isaac Hayden and Jamaal Lascelles are set to miss the rest of the campaign with their long-term injuries.

More positive news see Steve Bruce confirm that ASM is fine for Liverpool after recovering from a knock to the ankle.

Whilst Bruce also says Callum Wilson is ‘perfectly OK’ but can’t train every session at the moment, as his rehab is carefully managed. Whether that means he will start again from the bench at the weekend, remains to be seen.

To help give a starting point, this was the 20 man Newcastle United squad that was selected against West Ham last time:

Dubravka, Murphy, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton (Subs: Gillespie, Gayle, Carroll, Wilson, Lewis, Hendrick, Krafth, Manquillo, Willock)

So which Newcastle United team will Steve Bruce pick this afternoon against Liverpool?

Dubravka will start of course, then with Schar still not ready to return, the three centre-backs look booked for another game together.

Ritchie will stay on the left for sure but I think a tactical change is on the cards at right-back.

I think Steve Bruce will go more negative and fear Liverpool’s attacking power, which has rarely been seen this season, though signs of emerging again with three wins until the 1-1 draw at Leeds earlier this week, when they possibly should have had the game won by half-time instead of just being 1-0 up.

So I think Manquillo will come back in for Murphy to try and help deal with the threat of Robertson and others down Newcastle’s left.

With Isaac Hayden ruled out, Newcastle fans have been fancying the idea of Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock playing together in the middle. I think that this will happen at Anfield but not at the expense of Jonjo Shelvey.

Shelvey had been claiming that the fan perception of him putting minimal running and workrate in is wrong, that he actually does more than his fair share. For those supporters watching from home, they will take some convincing.

However, he does appear to be undroppable for Steve Bruce, so expect Shelvey playing for sure today.

I think Joe Willock will come in as a third central midfielder with at least in theory, the loan man trying to get into the box as often as possible.

My guesstimate is that Willock will replace Allan Saint-Maximin.

The reasoning being, for Steve Bruce that is, to look after ASM after that knock to his ankle and a belief that keeping the Frenchman as an impact sub could pay dividends.

With Callum Wilson not able to train every session, I think no chance of him starting this game either, without these two wins in the last two games then maybe no option but to put him in, but even Bruce will accept he has to look after the striker and not take unnecessary risks.

That would leave for me, Joelinton and Miguel Almiron to play as the furthest two forward, hopefully trying to stretch a Liverpool back four that has struggled, leaving Joe Willock to burst up the middle of the pitch and add to his three goals. That’s the theory anyway, maybe.

Joelinton looking to build on that stunning three yard finish into an empty net last Saturday, his fifth goal in 64 PL appearances so far.

Just in case any help is needed, Bruce then also having Callum Wilson as an impact sub as well.

So the two changes for Steve Bruce in my opinion.

Giving this predicted Newcastle team v Liverpool:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Willock, Almiron, Joelinton

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