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Newcastle team v Chelsea – This will be a very different Graeme Jones line up

1 month ago
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Next up we have the selection of the Newcastle team v Chelsea.

Saturday having seen Graeme Jones pick his first ever Newcastle United starting eleven, in his role of interim manager.

Jones saying he has been told by the new NUFC owners that he has the job for two matches, so unless a surprise new appointment lands in the very near future, the 51 year old Geordie has the opportunity to take on the league leaders.

Fair to say that when guessing the side it is most definitely a rollover, as not a single NUFC fan predicted the Newcastle team v Crystal Palace that the temporary manager went for.

As a quick reminder, this was the Newcastle starting eleven and the three subs used, as well as the other six left on the bench.

Newcastle United:

Darlow, Manquillo, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff (Willock 66), Fraser (Almiron 66), Saint-Maximin (Joelinton 81), Wilson

Unused Subs:

Gillespie, Schar, Lewis, Hendrick, Murphy, Gayle

Before the match at Selhurst Park, on the Friday Graeme Jones said that as well as the suspended Jonjo Shelvey, there were three others missing as not fully fit, namely Martin Dubravka, Paul Dummett and teenage midfielder Elliot Anderson.

As well as the 24 named above, that only left keeper Freddie Woodman and Federico Fernandez unaccounted for. Obviously only room for two keepers in Saturday’s matchday squad, whilst you presume it must have been some kind of late injury / fitness issue for the former Argentine international but who knows.

Jonjo Shelvey will obviously be available after the one match suspension, whilst on Friday the interim boss indicated that most / all of the remaining in injured players could / should also be in contention for the matchday squad.

It wouldn’t be correct to say there was a lot of criticism for Graeme Jones’ choice of eleven against Palace, more bewilderment I would say. Newcastle fans generally thinking here is going to be at last my / our idea of the ideal NUFC best team…only to see Fraser and Krafth come in and a number of others keep their places when the majority of fans would no doubt have wanted to see some of them drop out as well.

Jones made clear he had tried to pick a team to stop the rot, to hopefully tighten things up at the back with a back five and only really ASM and Wilson expected to spend much time further up the pitch.

The best you could say about this match afterwards was that the end justified the means. However, that ‘end’ (a point) was largely down to good fortune that the best five or six clear chances all fell to Christian Benteke, not a clinical finisher he. He did score one (a header from five yards that Darlow should have came for as the cross was from out wide) but wasted a pair of other absolute sitters and two or three others, as well as there then the VAR disallowed goal late on.

Only 25% possession over the 90 minutes and indeed only 21% the first half, a clear indicator of how Graeme Jones had set out his stall.

In reality it was a bit of a shocker to watch in terms of entertainment and enterprise (if you were a Newcastle fan) but I reckon United fans overwhelmingly supportive in terms of Graeme Jones finding himself in a tough tough position, only three days of training to prepare whatever team and tactics out and so vital to try and stop the flow of goals conceded (19 in eight PL games before this match) and hopefully a point or better to get a little bit of momentum and confidence back.

Moving on to the Newcastle team v Chelsea, I would be amazed if Graeme Jones went for the same eleven and repeat of the same tactics. I honestly believe he will see this game very differently and prepare accordingly.

I’m not claiming he is some kind of very top level tactical genius but I do see the Geordie interim manager as at least a major step up on that bloke who left last week. I think the positive things are that Jones has already shown he will be ruthless in doing what he things is right AND will have a plan. That last point might sound a bit obvious but after the previous 27 months, a clear plan was anything but (obvious) in so many matches.

I can’t believe Graeme Jones would do exactly the same and play so deep. As I think against a far better team and significantly superior goalscoring threat (23 already this season and only Liverpool having scored more), a heavy defeat would be surely inevitable if inviting Chelsea to dominate and get so close to the Newcastle penalty area so often, having totally abandoned any real midfield battle.

Possibilities to come into the Newcastle team v Chelsea are for me: Dubravka, Lewis, Schar, Fernandez, Willock, Almiron, Shelvey and even Dummett, though the Geordie left-back is surely the one player who definitely won’t be involved after so long out.

Dubravka would be a no-brainer for me if deemed fit enough to start, as Darlow has been at fault for a number of goals (including the Palace goal) since returning five games ago and the Slovakian is a real top keeper.

Of the outfield players, I am seeing Almiron and Willock as the most likely to come in, all but certainties, especially the Paraguayan. The pair would give us far more legs and the ability to try and harass Chelsea far higher up the pitch, as well as more of a threat when possession is won back, giving Wilson some much needed extra support.

Interesting as well of course to see what the Graeme Jones stance is on Steve Bruce favourite Jonjo Shelvey, Brucey would undoubtedly I think have played Shelvey this coming Saturday but my guess on how Jones sees him, would be probably a no. Unless of course Shelvey is prepared to put the necessary effort in on the pitch, which has rarely been the case since his purple patch of late in the 2017/18 season when the midfielder did put a set of committed performances together that could / should have feasibly seen him edge into the England squad for the World Cup in Russia.

Interesting as well to see if there is any greater intention to play some football out from the back and attempt to rely on something other than simply boot the ball forward and gift possession back to Chelsea, as was the case so often at Palace.

Fabian Schar and Jamal Lewis are potential changes that could help in that respect, plus give a bit more mobility as well against Chelsea’s runners from midfield, it remains to be seen whether Lukaku makes the starting eleven as he missed out on Saturday due to a knock and Tuchel has already said the Belgian striker will miss the League Cup match against Southampton on Tuesday night.

I couldn’t confidently predict what this Newcastle team v Chelsea will be BUT I am confident that Graeme Jones will make at least a couple of selection changes and adapt the tactics to the opposition.

As to whether they will succeed, well you have to rely on the players on the pitch turning up, to give it the best possible chance of working.

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