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Opinion

Newcastle team v Brentford with five changes to get Eddie Howe off to perfect start

2 weeks ago
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Looking at this Newcastle team v Brentford.

What a massive match.

After a disastrous start to the season, no wins in the first twelve games, out of the League Cup and second bottom of the Premier League, the perfect time for a new Head Coach to come in…

Eddie Howe taking up the challenge, working with the players intensively in these two weeks leading up to Saturday at St James Park.

Brentford would surely have settled for 12 points after their opening 11 Premier League games. However, after picking up 12 point in seven PL matches, the last four games have all been defeats.

The Bees have lost to both Burnley and Norwich in their last two matches and playing at home, the onus most definitely is on Newcastle to win this match.

With that, here’s my choice below of Newcastle team v Brentford that could / can hopefully starting putting this start to the season right, also my reasons for going with this eleven.

As a starting point…

This was the Newcastle team v Brighton:

Darlow, Murphy, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Almiron, Saint-Maximin, Wilson

An update from the training ground on Wednesday stated that there is set to be pretty much a full squad to choose from on Saturday.

The club saying that Paul Dummett is seemingly the only first team squad member definitely not available through injury.

Though with Miguel Almiron not finishing his international matches until early on Wednesday morning (UK time), it appears unlikely he will be considered for the starting eleven after minimal training under new boss Eddie Howe.

Worth noting first that it will be a major surprise if Eddie Howe doesn’t change to a back four. Analysis by the official Premier League site showed that previously, the new NUFC Head Coach has gone with four at the back around 85% of the time.

Martin Dubravka played for Slovakia in recent days and now fully fit, he HAS to come in now. Not just Newcastle’s best keeper, he is also one of the best in the Premier League. No disrespect to Karl Darlow who did better against Brighton in the last game, after struggling in previous games, we need the number one back in.

With a new manager in place, we have to hope and trust that Eddie Howe can get a tune out of Jamal Lewis, who Steve Bruce spent £15m on and yet (along with Graeme Jones) hasn’t given him a single PL start these past nine months.

I think Lewis will get his chance in the very near future but for now, Eddie Howe will almost certainly go with Matt Ritchie, who he knows well. Ritchie has actually looked a bit better when defending in some of the recent matches and I think will play left-back on Saturday.

With Eddie Howe almost certainly going with a back four, Javier Manquillo must surely get a recall. Very unlucky to be dropped at Brighton having done well since getting back in the team, the Spaniard is the best / only option at right-back, Murphy and Krafth not up to playing there.

With Eddie Howe set to shift the emphasis to Newcastle trying to actually play a bit of football now, we need at least one change in centre of defence, somebody who can play the ball instead of just booting it anywhere, as has become the norm recently. My best guess is that it is Jamaal Lascelles who will keep his place, with Fabian Schar belatedly getting back into the team after Steve Bruce gave him only two PL starts since February.

Central midfield is an area that is open to massive improvement and it will be a major surprise if the January transfer window doesn’t bring changes.

However, in the meantime, what will Eddie Howe do?

I’m no fan of Shelvey but I do see Howe giving him a chance to show that he can do better than we have seen under Steve Bruce and help Newcastle get far more control and possession in matches. If Jonjo Shelvey doesn’t up his game and workrate, then he will swiftly be replaced.

I think Hayden will definitely be in the middle, to try and help protect the defence, especially if Newcastle are finally going on the front foot against the other teams in the bottom half.

Joe Willock has looked lost with Bruce’s tactics this season and team set up but still has shown some powerful running and I think is somebody who the Head Coach will definitely find a place for, as he looks for far more pace and stamina in his team.

I can’t see Almiron being considered for this one after his long journey and only getting one or two training sessions with Eddie Howe. A lot of people might automatically assume that Ryan Fraser will be in Howe’s team but I fancy that we will see the new NUFC boss try to get something out of our £40m superstar. It seems impossible that Joelinton is really as bad as he has looked under Steve Bruce, with only six goals in 79 PL appearances, so the Head Coach could well be set to play the Brazilian. Call me made but I have a strange feeling that Joelinton is going to score against Brentford…

Allan Saint-Maximin is of course an automatic choice despite a sharp drop in form after scoring or getting an assist in five of the opening six PL games of the season. With Graeme Jones continuing the negative Bruce tactics, it has made life very difficult for ASM and hopefully a front foot Eddie Howe approach can relight his fire.

Callum Wilson is of course first name on the team sheet, four goals in seven games and from only 14 chances that have come his way, if Eddie Howe and his new look team can fashion a handful of chances for Wilson on Saturday, then I think we can take the three points for sure.

My Newcastle team v Brentford:

Dubravka, Manquillo, Lascelles, Schar, Ritchie, Willock, Hayden, Shelvey, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin, Wilson

So five changes I think Eddie Howe should / could make, with Dubravka, Manquillo, Schar, Willock and Joelinton, in for Darlow, Clark, Krafth, Murphy and Almiron.

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