Newcastle United were the favourites for automatic qualification according to many people as the Rafa Benitez-managed side embarked on an unfamiliar Championship journey. With the calibre of Benitez aligned with smart acquisitions in the transfer window, it was expected to be a season of immediate promotion to the Premier League. But the Magpies were in for a shock as they fell to consecutive defeats in the first two matches which set the alarm bells ringing. After being beaten 1-0 and 1-2 by Fulham and Huddersfield respectively, they needed an immediate turnaround to prevent from being mired in the depths of the table.
Benitez has managed to do exactly that along with his team as they have bounced back with 3 victories on the trot and find themselves in the 7th position in the league table. The latest win came in midweek in a 2-0 victory over Cheltenham Town in the EFL cup. Rafa Benitez will hope they are able to continue this momentum when Brighton and Hove Albion come calling to St.James’ Park. Chris Hughton’s charges will provide a real test of the home side’s Championship credentials, though. Brighton are unbeaten so far this term and have scored 16 goals in their last five matches in all competitions.
They are currently 2nd in the table and are looking like real contenders for the top 6 spots come the end of the season and possibly the top two. Brighton have kept 4 clean sheets in 6 competitive fixtures so far and will hope his side’s defensive solidity holds him in good stead as he prepares to face his former employers. But both these teams are contenders for the Championship title and will provide an entertaining match.
Newcastle have to deal with a couple of major injury blows as Dwight Gayle and Mitrovic have been ruled out of the fixture due to both of them suffering concussions in the midweek match. It will be a big blow for Benitez as Gayle has been the top-scorer thus far in the Championship with 4 goals and Mitrovic had returned after a long injury break himself. Ayoze Perez is expected to lead the line in their absence and is in good touch having netted both the goals in midweek.
The former Real Madrid manager is expected to go in with a 4-4-2 formation and will be looking for a win as he aims to climb further up the table.
The predicted Newcastle United Line-Up,