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Previewing the Unpreviewable: Brighton vs. Newcastle

Three losses in a row, it could not get worse than that? ...right???

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
ASM is judging us for how awful that match was
Photo by Ian Horrocks/ Getty Images

Well, since I have re-started this series Newcastle have lost every single match they have played.

I am starting to think that maybe I should stop writing these previews, but unfortunately for you I cannot. So let’s get into today’s preview of Newcastle’s penultimate match of what has been a strange season to say the least.

For both Newcastle and Brighton the Premier League restart has been a bit of a mixed bag. The teams both have picked up a couple wins, as well as a couple of draws, and have lost a few times, with each side getting smacked 5-0 by Manchester City.

Both managers won’t mind the rough restart as each team limps towards the conclusion of this season because both teams are going to live to see another season in the Premier League. As unfortunate as it is, Brighton and Newcastle often have the same goal nowadays, which is simply Premier League Survival. If that is achieved, it is a good season

Of course it is not great that Newcastle’s standards have stooped to the level of a team that has spent a lot of time outside of England’s first division, but I can assure neither side is thrilled that their season goal is simply survival.

The results since the restart for each club are below:

Brighton (WDLWLLD)

Brighton 2-1 Arsenal

Leicester 0-0 Brighton

Brighton 0-3 Manchester United

Norwich 0-1 Brighton

Brighton 1-3 Liverpool

Brighton 0-5 Manchester City

Southampton 1-1 Brighton

Newcastle (WDLWDLLL)

Newcastle 3-0 Sheffield United

Newcastle 1-1 Aston Villa

Newcastle 0-2 Manchester City (FA Cup)

Bournemouth 1-4 Newcastle

Newcastle 2-2 West Ham

Manchester City 5-0 Newcastle

Watford 2-1 Newcastle

Newcastle 1-3 Tottenham

What do Newcastle have to do to win?

Honestly fam, I don’t know.

Newcastle have been absolutely brutal since their 2-2 draw against West Ham, and honestly you could argue that was not a good showing by the team either.

The defense has been shambolic, giving up 10 goals in the last 3 matches. The offense has been putrid, only having scored 2 goals in the last 3 matches after having scored 10 goals in the 5 matches before their 5-0 loss to Manchester City.

Even in the match where the Newcastle offense has looked the best in their 3 game losing streak, the team somehow had 22 shots, 6 of which were on target, and still lost due to lapses in defense as well as failing to convert the chances they created.

Again... 22 shots is a wonderful number to look at, but if only 6 of them are on target you clearly don’t have an efficient offense.

Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
22 shots.... and only 6 were on target YIKES
Photo by Ian Horrocks/ Getty Images

With the injury list looking worse by the minute, the only way I see Newcastle actually winning this match is if an individual player like Miguel Almiron, Jonjo Shelvey, or dare i say it Joelinton, pull a Vince Young and “go the f--- off”.

Someone just has to step up and have the match of a lifetime and either grab the sole goal in a 1-0 affair, or have a multiple goal match that keeps Newcastle in it.

To be fair, Newcastle have already been using the “rely on one player for your offense” game plan with Allan Saint-Maximin all season, but he won’t be available, so someone else has to step up.

Normally I would say something about being defensively sound, but I have no faith Newcastle will be able to do that with only one fit center back on the roster, and a back line that has looked shaky the past few matches.

Players to watch

Davy Pröpper has been Brighton’s most consistently good player this season. He’s not one to fill up the stat sheet with goals and assists, but like Isaac Hayden he has excelled in a holding midfield role protecting the back line. He recycles possession well, reads the game even better, and is still a threat to score, even if that is not the first thing on his mind.

From an attacking sense Pascal Groß, who leads the team in assists and Neal Maupay who leads the team in goals are players Newcastle must watch out for given how shaky the back line is. Groß in particular has given Newcastle some trouble win recent meetings with Brighton, and is one of the few signings Brighton have made in the past few seasons that truly have been excellent signings.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League
all my homies hate aaron mooy
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Outside of those three players, Brighton don’t really have any other players that are genuine threats to Newcastle. There is of course the ever-present figure of Aaron Mooy, who has been haunting Newcastle since their relegation under Rafa Benitez. He’s always a threat to have a decent match against Newcastle for some odd reason. The man lives to play well against Newcastle I guess.

Injuries... of which there are many

For Brighton the injury list is quite light as they close out the season. Alireza Jahanbakhsh and Adam Webster are both nursing injuries, but are likely going to be available for selection against Newcastle. Jose Izquierdo and Steven Alzate both are still injured, and likely have already played their last game of the season for Brighton

Newcastle on the other hand are what we like to call in showbiz “screwed”. Five center backs for Newcastle are unavailable. Jamaal Lascelles who is dealing with an ankle injury and Fabian Schar who dislocated shoulder, both have been ruled out for the next couple of months. Florian Lejeune and Ciaran Clark have not played at all during the restart. Bruce was hoping Lejeune would be fit enough to play, but that is looking unlikely. Paul Dummett of course is still unavailable for selection although he is healthy. Isaac Hayden’s Hamstring injury ruled him out for the rest of the season weeks ago, Sean Longstaff is likely done for the year also, and it looks like Allan Saint- Maximin’s calf injury is going to end his debut season earlier than he would have wanted.

The good news for Newcastle is that Andy Carroll is back, and might even play center back. So yeah... that’s cool.

One Bold Prediction

Some youngsters get their Premier League debut.

Center back Kell Watts was recently called up to the first team following an appeal to the Premier League by Newcastle given their current defensive injury woes. Kell is one of two center backs on the roster currently, and Emil Krafth has not been doing particularly well at center back, so it’s possible Bruce elects to throw Watts into the fire and give him his first Premier League start the same night as his debut.

However, this season Bruce has had the opportunity to play youngsters but simply has not. Outside of Matty Longstaff’s extended run in the first team, other academy standouts have found it difficult to actually get playing time under Bruce.

Newcastle United Training Session
with some decent first team minutes already under his belt, there is no reason Tom Allan should not be able to make his Premier League debut
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Tom Allan played a fair amount of minutes in the FA Cup and even picked up an assist. Since then, Allan has made the Newcastle bench a couple of times, but has not played even in matches where the outcome was unlikely to change if he made his Premier League debut.

Jack Young is another youngster that has been on the bench recently for Newcastle and has yet to receive playing time despite training with the first team for the duration of Project restart. But, with the injuries Newcastle have and the caliber of opponent Newcastle are playing, I could see at least one of these three making their Premier League debut against Brighton.

One Not So Bold Prediction

Christian Atsu will almost score.

I mean this section has not changed since I started this series. What makes you think it will change now? Atsu could find himself actually getting some playing time in this match due to ASM being injured, and Steve Bruce wanting to trot him out ahead of the likes of Tom Allan and Jack Young.

So yeah... Atsu will likely hit the post or hit a soft shot at the keeper. You can go ahead and place a bet for him to almost score.

The Elijah Newsome Clout Rating

If you missed the explanation for this revolutionary system an explanation can be found here. If you don’t want to read more than 3 sentences about the word “clout”, just know my Clout rating is a rating based on a club’s swag, influence and relevance.

Brighton are a team that when you read their name out loud, you think “this team belongs in the championship”

Literally every year they are picked to get relegated, because nothing about this team screams “Premier League side”.

Their crest has a seagull on it, which i guess is better than a moose, but still is kinda lame. On that note, their uniforms are generally meh, and I couldn’t tell you about their fans because I am convinced they are all computer generated 3D models that they put in the stands.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Manchester City - Premier League
sick arm tat pascal. so #trendy
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The only cool thing about Brighton is Pascal Groß, who still spells his name with an Eszett although Germany has largely moved away from using it. I love an”F the system” guy.

Brighton also has Aaron Mooy who is the WORSSSSTTTT.

(he’s probably going to score against Newcastle)

Clout Rating: 2 Half eaten stale bagels on the side of 46th street in Manhattan, NY

Projected Lineups

Newcastle could do a lot of things here just due to the fact they are missing so many first team players, including starting Andy Carroll at center back. If I were Steve Bruce though, I would try to shake things up and give some of your young guys their debut, and give some of the guys who haven’t played as much some playing time. This would also allow you to rest guys like Miggy, Ritchie, and Dubravka ahead of the 2020-2021 campaign that will likely start in September.

Unfortunately, I am not Steve Bruce. Knowing Steve Bruce, he’s going to try to roll out the strongest lineup possible. In Steve Bruce’s eyes, this does not include Valentino Lazaro for some reason so expect to see an attacking group featuring Matt Ritchie, Joelinton, Dwight Gayle, and Miguel Almiron.

With Matty Longstaff. Nabil Bentaleb and Jonjo Shelvey being the only fit midfielders at the moment, it is hard to see Steve Bruce stray away from going with the Bentaleb/Shelvey pairing, which has been the second best midfield pairing for Bruce since the restart (obviously a Hayden/Shelvey pairing is the best pairing, but it impossible at the moment). If I had it my way, Valentino and Matty Longstaff would get a run in the first team, because there is literally nothing to lose.

Newcastle United Training Session
this is the face of someone who knows he is not playing another match at Newcastle
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

The back line is where it get’s interesting for Steve Bruce. Danny Rose and Fede Fernandez will definitely be on the left side of the back 4. Manquillo will likely start at right back following a disappointing outing from DeAndre Yedlin. The only question is who Bruce will go with at the other center back spot. Krafth has held down that spot since the injury of Jamaal Lascelles, and while he has done his best, he consistently is getting beat by opposing forwards. Kell Watts has had two solid loan spells thus far, and is a proper center back with good size and reactions. Yes there is the fear of him getting roasted by Brighton’s attackers, but Krafth brings that same risk which makes the decision of which one to play that much harder. Either one is likely going to be the weakest link in the back line.

For Brighton, I would imagine they will roll out the same team that played a very solid match against Southampton before giving up a late winner. They went with a 3-4-1-2/5-3-2, packed it in on defense and made it very hard for Southampton, who like Newcastle struggle against teams who bunker, to create chances. Given that Brighton only need a draw for safety, I could see them rolling out a similar formation with likely the same lineup.

Brighton Projected Lineup (3-4-1-2): Ryan, Webster, Dunk, Burn, March, Pröpper, Stephens, Lamptey, Groß, Maupay, Murray

Newcastle Projected Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dubravka, Manquillo, Krafth, Fernandez, Rose, Bentaleb, Shelvey, Ritchie, Almiron, Joelinton, Gayle

One Random Fact to Say at the Bar

Here’s one Steve Bruce will be happy to hear.

As a coach, Graham Potter has an 8% win rate against English managers in Premier League games (P13 W1 D7 L5), while he has won 30% of his games against non-Englishmen in the competition (P23 W7 D6 L10).

Elijah’s Never Wrong Prediction

Brighton only need a draw to secure safety, and Newcastle look uninspiring and are missing not only their most dynamic player, but also 5 center backs. This match has 1-1 draw written all over it.

Newcastle draw 1-1 with Brighton.

Match Facts and Where to Watch

Date: Monday, 20 July 2020

Kick-off: 1:00 PM EST 6:00PM GMT

Venue: the American Express Community Stadium, Falmer, East Sussex

TV Coverage: NBC Sports Gold/Peacock (USA), Sky Sports (UK)

Referee: Simon Hooper