Right, so we have an injury crisis at Newcastle United, nothing new there then and as we prepare to take on Fulham at Craven Cottage this weekend, we have all been discussing the positive and negative aspects of our start to this season so far.
The positives are that Newcastle have been difficult to beat and that we’ve given two of the best sides in the land (Manchester City and Liverpool) two right good games and we were robbed in the latter.
The negatives are simple. We’ve had some shocking calls from officials and VAR but this is a factor pretty much out of our hands. The other downside so far this season is the injuries sustained to key players and it’s this area that needs to be taken into consideration when picking this Newcastle team v Fulham.
The news this international break has been erratic at best on our players’ fitness and possible availability for Saturday.
Bruno Guimaraes, Callum Wilson and Allan Saint-Maximin are the trio of players causing the most consternation and rightly so, as they are our three most important attacking players. Lose one and it’s a problem, lose two or three and it’s a crisis. Add in the apparent loss of record signing Alexander Isak and Chris Wood to new injuries and a tricky trip to play Fulham looks far more difficult.
I’ve heard more positive news over the last 48 hours on the availability of both Wilson and Bruno with certain media people thinking they could be in line to start this weekend and that Saint-Maximin could make the bench. I would urge caution on this, especially with Wilson and ASM, the fitness of both has been suspect to say the least for some time.
So what’s the solution I hear you ask?
Well it’s one a little left field and one some might say negative…but I’m going to venture it anyway with this suggested Newcastle team v Fulham:
Now I’d imagine that the majority of you have laughed and / or fallen to the floor, however, my reasoning is valid.
I simply wouldn’t risk the fitness of Callum Wilson (or Saint-Maximin for that matter) from the start on Saturday. Bringing Wilosn on in the second half would be a far better plan as you are highly likely going to be bringing him off anyway, around about the time I would advocate bringing him on. The same applies to Allan Saint-Maximin. Both players coming on would be a heck of a pair of subs to see the game out and play on a hopefully tiring Fulham side.
The downside to the plan is obvious, in that there isn’t a lot of goals left in the side, but Joelinton has played up front before and CAN score goals. He would also be able to drop deeper and do the defensive graft that he has been so good at since he started playing in the middle. What’s that you say? Play no striker? Well Manchester City do it and before anyone else starts laughing, yes I’ve just subtly compared us to Manchester City and if that’s a crime I’ll go and stand in front of Greys Monument and take the onslaught of rotten fruit I suppose.
This set up leaves Miggy Almiron the furthest forward to chase down Fulham’s back line and from a more central position, eliminating his problematic one-footed situation which was painfully evident against Bournemouth last time out.
I’m happy enough to trust Bruno’s fitness and with him slotting in the middle with Willock, I’m sure the choice of Elliot Anderson starting alongside would be a popular one and I feel the kid has earned his chance.
What interests me in this formation is that we could finally get Sven Botman into the side in a back three with “Big” Dan Burn and Fabian Schar. Then with both Matt Targett and Keiran Trippier on the flanksas wing-backs I think we have a good chance of containing Fulham, whilst giving us a good chance on the counter attack before bringing on reinforcements from what would be a strong bench later on.
That’s not to say I expect this to happen. Callum Wilson will likely start as there is little other option but I fear this will be an unnecessary gamble on a player who hasn’t played in such a long period, someone with such a shaky fitness record I’d be worried about throwing him straight back in.
Finally, what would be a good result down on the Thames?
I’d be content with my usual “take a draw away from home” attitude but the draws against Bournemouth and (scandalously) against Crystal Palace have started to cause a few worries, in that we are going to have to start nicking a few wins away from St James’ Park if we are to kick on this season.
I’m going for 1-1 and if we can add into that a battling performance and get some minutes into Wilson and Saint-Maximin, I’ll be happy enough to buy time until both their fitness and that of Alexander Isak, Jonjo Shelvey and Chris Wood returns and we can start having a right good go at teams once more.
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Don’t laugh at this Newcastle team v Fulham
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