It feels good when you can call it a tough break and all you’ve done is draw your most recent games after banging nine goals past opposition keepers in the two matches prior to that one, does it?
We’re just six games (one of them an EFL Cup affair) from the World Cup break and Newcastle are currently sitting sixth in the freaking Premier League. How you like that, Klopp?
The remaining fixtures on Newcastle’s schedule before they play friendlies in Saudi Arabia feature top-heavy sides (Tottenham, Chelsea) and relegation-risk clubs (Everton, Aston Villa, Southampton) with no middle ground between them.
In other words: grab those three easily-winnable points against the lower-level sides and hope for the best against the good ones.
Everton have the good luck of facing a tired home-returning Newcastle. On the other hand, they have the bad luck of having to endure the Toon Army at SJP. Ooffff...
Newcastle are looking, realistically, at closing the calendar year with more than 30 points—probably 32—in 17 games. Even if the Magpies reach the middle of the season (MD19) with those 32 points and just replicate or have similar results, they might be into the 60+ points when all is said and done.
Last season, West Ham got into the Conference League with 56 points and Europa League football was available at the reasonable tally of 58 points. That was an outlier year, though, as Tottenham needed 59 in 2020, and West Ham 65 in 2021.
More than doable, I’d say.
FotMob.com predictions at the upcoming Starting XIs from the Magpies and the Toffees are in, so let’s go through what could be coming from Newcastle’s Eddie Howe.
- Not Available: Saint-Maximin (hamstring), Isak (thigh), Darlow (ankle), Krafth (knee), Ritchie (calf)
- Doubtful: None
- Do you think there is a chance Eddie Howe doesn’t add wood to the World Cup squad fire by benching Nick Pope? With Jordan Pickford manning the goalie at the other end of SJP tonight? Not that it would ever happen anyway, but come on.
- Kieran Trippier to the right is an obvious decision as it’s been all season. No point in losing time discussing this one because there is no one else available on the bench that guarantees quality football at the position.
- I get the whole “let’s keep it going while it’s working/if it’s not broken don’t fix it” mentality of Howe. That said, a midweek game played at SJP and sandwiched between trips to Manchester and London is definitely looking like the ideal match to make some changes and give some folks a bit of a rest. Let alone mentioning it’s Everton Newcastle are playing...
- Fabian Schar has started all games he’s played this season and has 801 minutes of Premier League time on his legs, the most among Magpies with fewer than 10 games played. He got banged up against United last weekend so I’m betting on him hitting the pine tonight. Botman and Burn started last Sunday’s game, so the next-best piece available on the bench if Howe goes with a heavy rotation today is Jamaal Lascelles. The former captain already started a match in the midweek trip to Anfield last August so it’s not crazy to see that happening again.
- Burn has been swinging between a center-back and left-back position for the whole season moving Matt Targett to the bench. No more, not today, Big Boy Burn. Matt Targett gets the call to man the left flank after not starting any of the last three games played—all of them after the international break.
- It’s slim pickings on the bench when it comes to a fourth defender (Jamal Lewis?) so I have to think Sven Botman keeps getting a few more reps against a not-so-threatening side in Everton tonight in front of the Geordie faithful. A win-win situation for all parties involved.
- I don’t see Bruno resting a game this season barring injury, like Nick Pope and Kieran Trippier. So you can pencil (or straight pen) him into tonight's starting XI.
- Joe Willock couldn’t start last Sunday’s game against Manchester United because of a virus, but he still was good for some late 13 minutes of play. It’s come to picking between Longstaff and Willock lately, and with the latter having barely featured a few days ago and the former coming off three consecutive 90-minute games it makes sense to use Willock for the larger part tonight.
- Joelinton should be the man starting in the remaining midfield position. He can track back, cover all of the pitch on defense, provide some second-wave threat arriving late on offense, and can also drift to the left wing when the winger leaves it and cuts inside. Toon handyman. There is a slight chance Elliot Anderson gets a start against Everton if Bruno tells Howe he wants to take this one easy playing a deep-lying playmaker role with limited physical activity going forward. Keep an eye on that, as Anderson can be the under-the-radar starter of the game next to Willock and Bruno.
- I have not forgotten about Jonjo Shelvey, who is seemingly available already and into tonight’s official squad. He is definitely not starting after missing so much time, but here’s hoping the result and development of the game allow him to enter the pitch for some 10-to-15 minutes so he can get some SJP vibes back into his system.
- Callum Wilson scoring one or two on a goal defended by England no. 1 GK Jordan Pickford? Yes, please! Chris Wood might enter the game late if Newcastle is (somehow) held to a goalless 75 minutes of play, but the odds are minimum.
- Miguel Almirón with another start barring a very surprising decision and heavy rotation in a scenario in which Howe would name both Jacob Murphy and Ryan Fraser the starting wingers.
- Murphy has started the last three games while appearing in all 10 Premier League matchdays. His minutes, though, have gone from 90 against Fulham to 65 against Brentford and just 58 last weekend against Man. Utd. He will probably make way for Ryan Fraser on the left wing. Fraser has not started a game for Newcastle after the break after doing so three times in a row between MD5 and MD8. He’s fresh off playing just 57 total minutes over the last 19 days and two games, so he shouldn’t have a problem starting and lasting as much as the game demands him. No ASM tonight with a setback, so it is what it is on the wing.
CHN Predicted Lineup
DEF Trippier - Lascelles - Botman - Targett
MID Willock - Bruno - Joelinton
WNG Almirón - Fraser
- Date: Wednesday, October 19th
- Kick-off: 19:30 BST / 14:30 EST / 12:30 PST
- Location: St James’ Park (England)
- Broadcasts: Amazon Prime Video (UK), Peacock (USA), fuboTV (Canada)
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Howay the Lads!