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Opinion: How Newcastle should line-up against Burnley to get their first win of the season



Credit: @NUFC twitter - The Magpies prepare for Clarets Clash...


Newcastle remain winless and sit rock bottom of the Premier League ahead of the clash with the Clarets on Saturday afternoon at St James’ Park.

After fourteen games, the Magpies can have little complaints over their woeful start but have experienced improvement under new manager, Eddie Howe.

Attacking wise, the home side have a respectable goalscoring record but their second-rate defending has meant they’ve conceded more than any other team in the league – the current tally sits at 30.

Following their disappointing draw with the Canaries on Tuesday evening, in which Clark saw red just eight minutes in, Newcastle are still seeking a first win and must take the three points come 3pm if they are to retain their Premier League status.

There’s been several questions surrounding team selection ahead of the must-win clash and who should make the starting eleven has divided opinion. Much of the debate has been regarding who should be part of the back four.



Eddie Howe has already made it clear that his preferred formation is 4-4-2 and things were looking promising in the opening stages against the Canaries until Clark stupidly pulled down Teemu Puki following a shocking display of defending.

Jamal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie return to the match-day squad after serving their one-match suspensions in the game in North-London last weekend but won’t be certain of a place in the starting eleven.

Howe made positive comments towards Lascelles in today’s press conference:

“He’s a hugely important player because he has physicality and pace in our back line and they’re qualities we need. I really like Jamaal and I think there’s a lot more to come from him. I think we can take his game to new heights.”

Federico Fernandez is the other candidate to replace Clark at centre-back and after his introduction eight minutes into the Canaries clash, he seems to be the favourite to take the spot. Many fans feel he is Newcastle’s best defensive option and has been unlucky to not feature more this campaign. Howe has also made positive comments about Fede ahead of Saturday’s game at SJP:

“I thought he was outstanding. A model professional who prepared well, trained well and was ready for his moment when it came. I really love him as a person and he’s going to be invaluable. His leadership qualities are there for all to see.”

The introduction of Jamal Lewis at full-back seemed to have an instant impact last time out as the Northern-Ireland international made a couple of important blocks to deny the Norwich attack. He also gives the Magpies extra support going forward. For this, he should definitely retain his position in the starting line-up.

Javi Manquillo started on the opposite side of the defence as Ritchie missed out and played his part in the well-fought draw. The Spaniard has been involved in three goals this season, assisting 2 and scoring away at Old Trafford. He also provides more stability than his Scottish teammate.

However, Ritchie’s passion and experience under Howe may be enough to see him get back into the squad from the Kick-Off. The ex-Bournemouth man is above the top ten most creative full-backs in the league and has provided numerous opportunities for the front men.

Fabian Schar is likely to retain his place given his ball-playing abilities and the style of football new manager Howe likes to play. The move to a four at the back has given the Magpies more attacking impetus and has proven positive in improving performances all over the pitch. Hopefully the lads can get the win on Saturday, end the streak and give the club a much-needed boost.

Goalkeeper Martin Dubravka returned to the starting eleven against Arsenal and has made some important stops in the previous two games. However, his inability to catch a deep cross in midweek cost the team their lead – the Slovakian will be looking to put that mistake behind him come 3pm on Saturday.

Here is how Newcastle should set up at the back tomorrow afternoon:


Howe played four across the midfield on Tuesday evening and is likely to follow suit against the Clarets at SJP. The new boss has favoured ex-Bournemouth man Ryan Fraser on the right and despite being sacrificed after Clark saw red, the Scottish international seems set to get another start. He created the equaliser against Brentford a few weeks ago and helped his side to a point following the 3-3 scoreline.

Fraser experienced some fine form under Howe in his time at the Cherries but is yet to deliver anything like that level of performance on Tyneside. For that reason, my preference would be a deeper midfield two of Isaac Hayden in a holding role with Jonjo Shelvey as a playmaker in-front of the back four.

The ex-Liverpool and Swansea man has been one of Newcastle’s best players under the new manager and has found a creative spark. His work-rate has been questioned over the years and rightly so but he certainly put in a shift in the visit of Norwich on Tuesday.

The 4-2-3-1 system gives the team the best chance of creating chances going forward and packing a punch in attack. This set up allows Joelinton to play on the left of an advanced three which is arguably his best position.

The Brazilian put in a MOTM performance last time out and has more freedom further forward to effect the game positively for his team. Like Shelvey, the 25-year-old has been one of the most impressive players since Howe took over a few weeks ago.

Joe Willock had another quiet game against Dean Smith’s side but will feel he can provide more in attacking areas if Newcastle can keep eleven players on the pitch this time out. His most promising moment was when he ran forward with the ball, beating a number of defenders before finding Callum Wilson in the box who failed to hit the target like his teammates before him.

Allan Saint-Maximin seems to have a fairly free role and that’s the best way to play the exciting French winger. His ability to beat players is unmatched in the Premier League and he can only improve his end product in a more attacking formation. The 4-2-3-1 set up seems to suit his game, helping to grow his relationship with Wilson and is likely to have a big say if Newcastle claim their first win.

The two deep lying players in the middle of the park can combine with the three in advanced positions to make a solid five in midfield which adds to the flexible nature of the formation and could help the attacking flow of Howe’s side.

Here is how the midfield could potentially look:



Joelinton and Saint-Maximin in advanced wing positions will be the main support for striker Callum Wilson and need to bring their A-game come 3pm on Saturday as Newcastle desperately need a win to change their fortunes.

Their current form sees them heading straight towards relegation to the Championship.

The attackers have turned up on a number of occasions for the Magpies this season but performances have been plagued with second-rate defensive displays, giving the team no chance of gaining much-needed momentum in forward areas.

Callum Wilson is a constant threat up top but has scored just once in the previous five games. That goal came in midweek and the veteran striker will be looking to add to his tally against Lancashire side Burnley tomorrow afternoon.

He had a couple of chances against the Canaries on Tuesday before he dispatched his penalty and may be frustrated that he didn’t take his opportunities – he is a likely scorer come 3pm.

Here is how Newcastle could set-up on Saturday at SJP:


Newcastle head into yet another must-win fixture against fellow strugglers Burnley and can’t afford any more slip-ups in their hunt for Premier League survival.

There were a lot of positive to take from the performance on Tuesday evening and the lads gave it their all.

However, the result wasn’t good enough in the wider context of the season.

Any points the Magpies can collect in their six festive fixtures would be a bonus and go a long way in bolstering their chances of avoiding relegation – starting with Burnley where anything less than a win would be a disaster.

Burnley have a poor record on the road this campaign and Newcastle have looked threatening at home despite there glaring issues in defence so I predict a tight 2-1 victory.


Pre-match thoughts? Score predictions?

Will Newcastle claim their first win on Saturday? Can the Magpies get enough points to give their new recruits a chance of survival in the second half of the season?

Join in the conversation and have your say…


Saudi Arabia wants its investors to own Manchester United



North East Updates - Breaking News

Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.


Sports minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisal revealed the country’s latest sporting ambitions in an interview with Sky News – with the sovereign wealth fund already owning Newcastle and now funding a breakaway golf series.


It follows the Manchester United board announcing that they are open to a sale of the club.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Turki Al-Faisalstated he would be keen on Ronaldo signing for a Saudi Pro League after the World Cup, with the 37-year-old a free agent following a controversial interview and exit to Manchester United earlier this week..


“Who wouldn’t want him to play in their league?” “He’s a role model to a lot of young players – him and Messi.”


Sky news are reporting – It is the availability of United – after the Glazers announced plans for a potential sale – and Ronaldo that is interesting Prince Abdulaziz.


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Which Newcastle Players Are Going To The World Cup?




The FIFA World Cup in Qatar gets underway next week and here are all the Newcastle players involved in the tournament

Callum Wilson (England)

Newcastle striker Callum Wilson is a player that has consistently shown the quality to earn a spot in an England squad at a major tournament but has sadly had his chances diminished by injuries in the past.

However, Wilson is currently injury free and is on the plane to Qatar! The Coventry City academy graduate averages a goal every 130 minutes in the Premier League this season, which is the second-best return of all English players behind Harry Kane.

The 30-year-old may have to bide his time for an opportunity due to England captain Harry Kane being the first-choice striker. That said, Wilson gives Gareth Southgate a great alternative should England find themselves chasing a game.

Kieran Trippier (England)

Gareth Southgate has always been very fond of Kieran Trippier’s abilities and what he brings to a team. For example, in Euro 2020 Southgate opted to play Trippier at left-back ahead of a more natural option in Ben Chilwell due to the 32-year-old’s experience and leadership qualities.

Trippier brings bags of experience at major tournaments after reaching the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup and the final of Euro 2020.

With injuries at right-back to the likes of Reece James and uncertainty around the fitness of Kyle Walker, Trippier could start at right wing-back in England’s World Cup opener against Iran.

Nick Pope (England)

The last player to complete The Magpies’ England trio is Nick Pope. Toon’s No.1 has been outstanding since arriving from Burnley in the Summer and has earnt his place in England’s World Cup squad.

Pope has the joint most clean sheets in the Premier League this season (6) alongside Manchester City goalkeeper, Ederson and fellow England goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale.

It remains to be seen if Gareth Southgate picks Pope to be his first-choice goalkeeper in Qatar ahead of Jordan Pickford and Aaron Ramsdale. Pope started both of England’s last games in the Nations League back in September.

Bruno Guimarães (Brazil)

Moving to South America and the favourites to win the competition, Brazil. Bruno Guimarães has been one of Newcastle’s stand-out players this season and has deservedly earned himself a spot in Brazil’s very competitive World Cup Squad.

Guimarães has statistically been the best midfielder in the Premier League so far this season and will be hoping his performances have done enough to earn him a start against Serbia in Brazil’s opening fixture.

That said, Brazil manager Adenor Leonardo Bacchi has predominantly played with a midfield two of Manchester United duo, Casemiro and Fred at the base of the Brazilian midfield.

Fabian Schär (Switzerland)

The Magpies’ centre-back has been in great form alongside Sven Botman at the heart of Newcastle’s defence this season and will be hoping to continue his form in Qatar.

Schär has some tough competition in his position in the form of Manchester City centre-back Manuel Akanji and Borussia Monchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi.

Switzerland find themselves in the same group as tournament favourites Brazil, which will see Schär reunited with Toon teammate Bruno Guimarães in Gameweek 2.

Who didn’t make the squad?

The most surprising player to not make their country’s squad is Sven Botman. The former Lille centre-back has been a major part of why Newcastle has the Premier League’s best defence so far this campaign.

Louis van Gaal has a great pool of centre-backs available to him and opted for the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij and Nathan Ake over Botman.

Another Toon player with World Cup disappointment is Joelinton, who has failed to follow Bruno Guimarães on the plane to Qatar.

Joelinton has been a revelation under Eddie Howe following his remarkable transformation from a striker to a box-to-box midfielder. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be for Joelinton this year.

Have Your Say

Who do you think will win the World Cup?

Which Newcastle player will be the best performer?

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What We Learnt (Spurs 1-2 Newcastle)



deadline day

Newcastle United were victorious at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium yesterday, winning 2-1 and now sit fourth in the Premier League. This is the first time they’ve been there at this stage of the season in 10 years.


Goals from Callum Wilson and Miguel Almiron were enough to scare away any chances of a second-half Spurs comeback. That’s six goals for Miggy in what is now his best-ever season for goals in black and white.


With 21 points, just five behind Manchester City and seven behind current league leaders Arsenal, the Toon are looking better than ever, but what did the victory yesterday tell us?


Toon are charging for Europe


If you didn’t believe it at the start of the season you should now. Eddie Howe has transformed Newcastle into a team with a winning mentality with a real sense of togetherness in a squad who are willing to battle for one another, week in and week out.


Very few teams will travel to London this season and manage to come away with a point, never mind three when playing Spurs. Not only this game, however, but Man City (3-3), Liverpool (2-1) and Brentford (5-1) have also shown that Howe and his side mean business this season and are willing to go toe to toe with some of the very best teams, coaches and players in the world. 


In his first signing interview, Sven Botman said, “Newcastle wants to reach the top and the top is in the league and, at the end, maybe in Europe.” Maybe he didn’t specifically mean this season but now he and the rest of his teammates should believe that they have a real chance of playing European football next season.


Almiron transformation shouldn’t go unnoticed


Almiron made 30 appearances last season in the league and finished with just one goal and no assists. Now, after just 12 games and six goals, the Paraguayan is already on course to smash his previous goal-scoring records which have seen him accumulate nine Premier League goals over the course of four seasons. 


Loved by the fans and with the full support of his teammates, it can only get better for the Paraguayan at this point. His goal against Tottenham showed the dribbling, flair and finishing quality he withholds, something that Steve Bruce and Rafael Benitez could never get out of him.


Eddie Howe must be awarded credit for this development, as with the current budget the club has, he could’ve easily found a replacement in the summer. But, just like Joelinton, Miggy has cemented his spot in Newcastle’s starting eleven and is proving every week why he deserves to be there.


Wilson & Burn should be considered by Southgate 


On TalkSport recently, Neil Warnock warned Gareth Southgate saying his loyalty to players might be his downfall and said Dan Burn is “Mr Steady Eddie” referring to his versatility, being able to play left-back or centre-back.


Burn started 28 Premier League games last season and this season has 11 out of 12. His consistent dominating performances in Newcastle’s back line have put him into the conversation for a first-ever England call-up and I don’t think many would disagree. With John Stoned injured, Harry Maguire and Tyrone Mings not in good form and not getting regular game time, Gareth Southgate’s defensive decisions should now be a lot more challenging.


Callum Wilson has proved yet again his abilities as a top Premier League striker. His goal against Spurs not only put him in the headlines over England captain Harry Kane but also made it four in eight for the English man this season who has averaged 2.8 shots per game with an average scoring frequency of 162 minutes. 


With no clear-cut backup striker to Kane, is Wilson ahead of Ivan Toney and Tammy Abraham in the race to be England’s number two striker?


So, what do you think? Do Newcastle have a serious chance at European football next season, can Almiron stay at his best and should Wilson and Burn be considered for a World Cup call-up?


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