Good luck predicting the Newcastle United lineup for the Chelsea game after the international break.
Newcastle United are back to square one after suffering a humiliating 2-0 defeat against a Southampton side that was not at full strength. The Saints cruised past the Magpies as they were gifted the ball to score both goals.
Newcastle United showed no urgency, were unorganized, and gave the ball away too easily as a result of excessive dribbling when surrounded by multiple defenders.
In total, Newcastle United only created four chances at St. Mary’s Stadium, and Friday’s game also marked the fourth consecutive game in which opposing teams created over 15 chances.
After taking points from Wolverhampton (1-1) and Everton (2-1), the Magpies completely took their foot off the pedal and reverted to their inconsistent ways against Southampton. This inconsistency is a major problem, and it has forced Bruce to re-think his lineup going forward.
Back to Square One
Eight weeks into the season and Bruce already finds himself in a dilemma, and the players are in for a rude awakening after the shift they put in on Friday.
According to a new report from the Chronicle, Bruce is willing to make several changes to his lineup for the Chelsea clash to ensure his starting eleven is composed of motivated players.
Only a handful of players have solidified their places in the lineup – Karl Darlow, Federico Fernandez, Jamal Lewis, Allan Saint-Maximin, and Callum Wilson. Yes, captain Jamaal Lascelles was excluded from that list because he deserves more blame than most players.
As the captain, the primary responsibility is to serve as a vocal leader and help direct the players around you, but we have not seen any of that from Lascelles, especially not on Friday. It most likely will not happen, but Bruce would be wise to hand Fernandez the captain’s armband and bring Ciaran Clark into the lineup.
Javier Manquillo is a key player who was dropped for essentially no reason, and it would be a major shock if Bruce does not bring him back at the right-back position. The real lineup headache for Bruce will be in midfield.
Saint-Maximin is the only true dynamic force Bruce has at his disposal, but the rest of the pack in midfield can be replaced. Jeff Hendrick was the worst player on the pitch in recent weeks, so Isaac Hayden and one of the Longstaff brothers might be the best option going forward.
The winger position opposite of Saint-Maximin will be a tough call for Bruce. Jacob Murphy has been in decent form, and Miguel Almiron has been hustling all over the field, but his involvement in the final third has been minimal.
It remains to be seen how long Ryan Fraser will be out of action due to a hamstring injury, but this would have been the perfect opportunity for him to start making gains as a starter.