The winter spending spree has helped Newcastle United script a turnaround in recent weeks. But the job is not done yet as they are only two points clear of the relegation zone ahead of locking horns with Brentford on Saturday afternoon. The Magpies have not lost a league game since mid-December and the streak must continue this weekend given the Bees’ dismal run of form.
The first leg tie at St James’ Park ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw. However, the West Londoners have lost the momentum of late and the fear of relegation would loom large if they fail to grab a result in their own backyard.
Predicted 4-3-3 Newcastle United To Face Brentford
Martin Dúbravka had some fitness woes in the recent past but is back between the sticks reclaiming the ‘number 1’ status from Karl Darlow.
Newcastle have ample central defensive options in their ranks and the gaffer would undergo a selection dilemma with skipper Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, Dan Burn, Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez and Paul Dummett all fighting for the central defensive spots. Schar and Burn have been immense in the last couple of games and the pair should retain their place in the heart of the backline for the upcoming fixture. Kieran Tierney’s injury is a significant blow for the Magpies and the pressure would be immense on Emil Krafth with Javier Manquillo also sidelined due to an ankle sprain. Matt Targett should keep on impressing as the left fullback following his loan move from Aston Villa.
Joelinton has been a revelation in the centre of the pitch and is expected to operate from the left of a three-man midfield. Jonjo Shelvey has been decisive with his creativity and set-piece traits and the box-to-box movements of Joe Willock might see the Toon Army dominate the midfield game. Highly-rated Bruno Guimarães and Sean Longstaff might get introduced from the bench as the second-half substitutes.
Chris Wood is yet to find the net since his high-profile winter transfer from Burnley. But the ‘number 9’ should still lead the line considering his physicality and poaching traits inside the box. Allan Saint-Maximin is likely to recover in time and feature from the left, whereas Jacob Murphy might get shifted down the right unless Ryan Fraser passes the late fitness test. Miguel Almiron and Dwight Gayle must stay patient and wait for their opportunities high up the pitch.