This international break seemed to drag, we can only imagine how the Newcastle players were feeling, especially those not selected for their national sides. The Manchester United defeat was so hard to take, in many ways the international break came at the wrong time for Newcastle.
Next up for the Magpies is the visit of former boss Chris Hughton and his Brighton side. It has been a really tough start for Newcastle, however, that must be put behind them and quickly. The next set of fixtures are far more favourable for Rafael Benitez’s side, a set of fixtures that could well define their season.
Newcastle have a few injury concerns heading into this game - Ciaran Clark withdrew from Republic of Ireland’s squad with a thigh injury, while Salomon Rondon and Paul Dummett have missed recent games with muscular injuries. Florian Lejeune remains Newcastle’s only long-term absentee, as the defender continues to recover from a knee injury sustained in July. The Frenchman recently returned to Tyneside as he steps up his recovery, with many hopeful that he will make a return this season.
Meanwhile, Chris Hughton confirmed that Davy Propper will miss the game after picking up an ankle injury in their last game, against West Ham United, and the midfielder looks set to be out for a few weeks. There will be late fitness tests on Pascal Gross and Dale Stephens, who are both returning from injury, while Gaetan Bong could also be a doubt after not playing while on international duty.
This is a huge opportunity for Newcastle to record their first victory of the season, it is vital they do so. It is still early in the season but this game already feels hugely important. If Newcastle manage to get all three points, confidence will start to build and we should see the Newcastle of last season.
Although it was a gutting defeat against Manchester United, Newcastle pushed Jose Mourinho’s side all the way. Especially during the first half the Magpies were absolutely outstanding, Rafael Benitez will be focusing on that first half performance.
A shining light from Newcastle’s latest defeat was Yoshinori Muto, the Japanese international notched his first goal of the season at Old Trafford. Muto looked full of energy and eager to prove a point, he gave Newcastle’s labored front line an injection of pace and energy.
This will still be a tough game for Newcastle, however it’s one they feel they should win. Newcastle must go out and attack, like they did against Manchester United. The Magpies cannot afford to sit back and invite pressure, in doing so the atmosphere inside St James’ Park will be affected. Newcastle need to give their loyal fans something to cheer, an early goal will get St James’ Park rocking once again.
Having finally got over the Manchester United defeat, I am feeling strangely confident on this one. The introduction of Muto from the start seemed to lift the rest of the squad. If the Japanese international starts again, Brighton will find it hard to handle him. I’m going for a 3-1 Newcastle win.