Newcastle United have the unenvious task of welcoming Manchester City to St. James’ Park this Saturday, following the Magpies’ defeat to Aston Villa on Monday night. Steve Bruce’s side had registered two wins earlier this month but prolonged inconsistency this season means the new manager has been under pressure ever since his arrival.
Newcastle are 14th in the league, five points above the relegation zone and will be keen to get as many points as they can in the winter period.
And while City’s patchy form means Newcastle might well nick a point if they turn up at their best, there won’t be massive pressure on Bruce to get any sort of result and he will be more focused on the performance of his players.
Let’s take a look at the possible Newcastle lineup that Bruce could put out against Manchester City.
Early Team News: Captain Jamaal Lascelles will surely miss the game as he is out with an injury, but Fabian Schär could return to the team. Schär was on the bench for Newcastle’s loss to Aston Villa on Monday.
Florian Lejeune should be ready for the game as well, but he should make the bench, having missed the start of the season due to injury.
Sean Longstaff should also return to the squad after serving his three-match suspension.
PREDICTED NEWCASTLE LINEUP vs MANCHESTER CITY ()
Martin Dubravka has kept three clean sheets for Newcastle this season. He will start in goal for the Magpies.
Fabian Schär should return to the Newcastle lineup having impressed for the Magpies before his injury. He should start at the heart of the defence alongside Federico Fernández and Ciaran Clark, with Paul Dummett moving to the bench.
Fernández, Clark, and Dummett started last time around against Aston Villa.
Out wide in defence, DeAndre Yedlin and Jetro Willems should start at right wing-back and left wing-back, respectively, but they will mostly be playing deep in their own half against a strong Manchester City attack.
Steve Bruce could play with three central midfielders in his team to nullify City’s strong midfield and also in a sense put pressure on the likes of Rodri and Gundogan who have been susceptible this season.
Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey have done well over the last few games and they could start, with Sean Longstaff returning to the Newcastle lineup after his suspension.
While this might leave them short-changed on the wings, the Magpies will likely have to sit deep and form two defensive lines in front of the goalkeeper and rely heavily on the counter.
Joelinton has gone on a 10-game goalless streak, with his only goal coming in the third game of this Premier League season. But Bruce may persist with him and hope the 23-year-old comes good.
We could maybe see Miguel Almiron or Allan Saint-Maximin play as the second striker while dropping into midfield when Newcastle don’t have the ball.
Saint-Maximin will get the nod ahead of Almiron if Bruce opts for this unconventional structure.