Newcastle United are feeling the pressure to perform as they desperately need a win against Burnley at St. James’ Park on Saturday.
Newcastle United need a positive result to stay out of the relegation zone. For now, the Magpies have been fortunate not to get dragged into the relegation battle because other relegation-threatened clubs continue to struggle. Steve Bruce’s men wasted a golden opportunity to claim three points at Selhurst Park and now they have to make up for that poor performance with an impressive showing against an in-form Burnley side.
Burnley are coming to St. James’ Park having won four of their last five games, and they aim to claim the double over Newcastle United this weekend. On paper, this game screams tight battle, especially in midfield, but, in my opinion, the lineup proposed below gives the Toon the best possible chance of winning.
Before looking at the players, it is important to determine what shape Newcastle United should play in. Bruce has hinted that we might see some tactical changes this weekend, but we have heard that before. Bruce should stick with the 3-4-3 formation, but emphasize the importance of getting the ball out wide and taking the game to Burnley at home.
This section was only added to the article for the sake formality. We all know that Martin Dubravka will be the man between the sticks for Newcastle United. The Slovakian is one of the best keepers in the Premier League and his big saves have kept the team in many close games this season.
Bruce should stick with the same back three he played against Crystal Palace. Jamaal Lascelles and Federico Fernandez have developed quite the chemistry in the back, and their confrontational style of play will be needed against Burnley’s big front-line. Fabian Schar has not been at his best since replacing the injured Ciaran Clark, but his defensive awareness and ability to bring the ball forward will be crucial for the Magpies on Saturday.
I can see Bruce making some big decisions here on Friday afternoon. One thing is certain, though, Isaac Hayden needs to start in the middle over Sean Longstaff. His ability to recover the ball in midfield is unmatched by any player in the squad. If Jonjo Shelvey is fit, he should get the nod over Nabil Bentaleb. The Algerian has been decent in the middle, but his offensive impact has been minimal. Shelvey is the team’s leading scorer and he will be eager to build on his tally of five goals.
Out wide it would make sense to see Matt Ritchie start. He had an immediate impact against Crystal Palace as a substitute and he could cause problems with his sharp tackles and accurate crosses. On the opposite flank, Bruce will most likely stick with Danny Rose, but the Tottenham loanee has been mediocre as a Magpie so far. If Javier Manquillo is healthy, then Bruce should go with the Spaniard. If not, I would rather see Rose start over DeAndre Yedlin. The last thing we need is more poor crosses from out wide.
No much explanation is needed when I say that Allan Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron should keep their places in the starting lineup. They are the only two players who can lead attacks and create chances out of nothing. Joining them in the middle, though, should be Dwight Gayle. Joelinton refuses to stay in the box, call for the ball and be selfish in front of goal.
The Magpies are the joint lowest-scoring team in the Premier League, so it is time for a change. Gayle may not be a major upgrade, but his primary focus is to score and that is what the team needs at the moment.