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Opinion

Newcastle team v Wolves with two changes to get this first win of the season

2 weeks ago
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Looking at this Newcastle team v Wolves.

You have to think that this is already a potentially vital match in the season, just ahead of the second international break of the season.

Defeat for Newcastle United would almost certainly mean they’d spend at least the next couple of weeks in the relegation zone, even a point may well be not enough to prevent that, as other sides at the bottom look set to pick up points this weekend.

Wolves have played pretty well so far but couldn’t find a goal in the opening three Premier League matches.

That changing though in the following three games, six points now on the board for Bruno Lage’s team after wins over Watford (2-0) and Southampton (1-0).

Despite playing a number of weaker teams, including Watford and Southampton, Steve Bruce still hasn’t managed a single win in seven games (all competitions) this season.

With that, here’s my choice below of Newcastle team v Wolves that could / can hopefully put that right, as well as my reasons for going with this eleven.

As a starting point…

This was the Newcastle team v Watford:

Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Almiron, Willock, Saint-Maximin, Joelinton

Karl Darlow did well last weekend but yet again the defence disappeared at the worst possible time, leading 1-0 with 18 minutes to go, Watford’s biggest threat Sarr was left unmarked six yards out on a corner and he headed home, meaning a draw and not a first win of the season for NUFC.

Darlow will deservedly start today as well and I would make only one change to the back four.

Matt Ritchie actually looked better defending as an out and out left-back last weekend, compared to the back five / wing-back system used previously. Hopefully that was not just down to how weak Watford were, although having said that, not much competitions for Ritchie as Jamal Lewis was really poor in his only start this season, in the League Cup defeat to Burnley.

Manquillo was impressive once again at Watford and is an easy choice to play today, same with Fernandez who returned due to Lascelles’ injury and showed yet again how foolish it is to play the NUFC captain ahead of him.

I though Ciaran Clark struggled though and against a very good technical Wolves side, I think we need Fabian Schar in the back four to help us play it out better from the back, rather than booting it long and gifting possession to a Wolves side who are going to have the lion’s share of it already.

Isaac Hayden still wasn’t great last weekend, after Steve Bruce ended his ridiculous experiment of playing the midfielder as a central defender ,but still obviously good enough to play ahead of the likes of Jeff Hendrick.

Sean Longstaff continuing his steadily improving form and topping it off with a very decent long range goal, having got his sights right with a couple of practice goes.

Joe Willock was a surprise inclusion after having wore a protective boot throughout the week leading up to Watford/ However, he gave a very energetic performance full of purposeful running to help get into scoring positions, might have done better with his opportunities but did bring the save of the match out of Ben Foster.

Alan Saint-Maximin must of course be allowed to continue in that free role where he is thriving. An assist for Longstaff’s goal, that makes it five of the six PL games he has either got an assist or a goal, so needs to keep on playing as high up the pitch as possible.

This is a tough game against what will undoubtedly be a Wolves side who have the ball a majority of the time, so Miguel Almiron will need to do a lot of work heading back towards his own goal, as well as hopefully contributing up front.

I’m not convinced by those claiming Joelinton is doing a lot better, it just looks the same old to me. Zero goal threat and whilst he may be winning heading duels and keeping possession a bit better, this is all happening in non-threatening areas of the pitch.

Dwight Gayle is always willing to do his fair share of work when Newcastle don’t have the ball, so no reason why he can’t work well with ASM and allow the Frenchman the freedom he loves, whilst Gayle can get in the box and hopefully finish off one of the small number of decent chances Newcastle are likely to create, against a side with a very good defence – only the top three in the table have conceded less than Wolves.

My Newcastle team v Wolves:

Darlow, Manquillo, Fernandez, Schar, Ritchie, Hayden, Sean Longstaff, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Gayle

So two changes I would make, Schar and Gayle in for Clark and Joelinton.

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