Newcastle United vs Brighton & Hove Albion
Venue: St. James’ Park
Referee: Andre Marriner
Newcastle will be looking for their first Premier League win this weekend against a Brighton & Hove Albion side that travel to St. James’s Park off the back of an impressive win against West Ham.
Newcastle accompany Huddersfield and Cardiff at the bottom of the table having lost all eight of their opening Premier League fixtures. Strangely perhaps, the Magpies came closest to winning in their last game against Manchester United; however, they let their two-goal lead slip late in the match.
Of course, some may credit Manchester United for their late win, but Newcastle must be held accountable for the apparent lack of discipline and concentration that was the catalyst to yet another failure. Rafa Benitez will undoubtedly be looking to prevent another disaster against Brighton, as yet another loss may see even more pressure mount on the Spaniard.
Brighton will be confident after a convincing home win, but the fact the Seagulls are winless in their last 17 away matches will likely linger in the back of Chris Hughton’s mind. Their football to this point has carried them to a respectable 13th place in the table, above the likes of Crystal Palace and West Ham.
Still, Brighton could sit higher in the table had they not missed chances against teams like Fulham and Southampton. Their inability to transform their chances into goals is a luxury they cannot afford, and Newcastle will be a test to see if Hughton’s men have learned their lesson.
Newcastle are in dire need of a win, and relegation is a very real threat to the Magpies. The future looks rather bleak for Benitez and his men, but a win at home could change the outlook of their season. Brighton are aiming to improve on their debut in the Premier League last season, a 15th place finish, and that seems an achievable goal; but Hughton’s men must become more clinical if they are to compete with the top teams in the Premier League. Too many wasted opportunities for Brighton could mean that Newcastle’s reality turns into their own.
Salamon Rondon, Paul Dummett, Kenedy, Muto, and Ciaran Clark are all doubts for the weekend, but luckily for Benitez, all with the exception of Rondon are expected to be fit.
There is no star man at Newcastle, and some would argue there is not much of a team either when the Magpie’s place in the table is considered. Players like Kenedy and new man Rondon must attempt to make the difference for a team whose morale has dipped.
Of course, that is no easy task, and it may be unfair to ask some players to double their efforts in order to accommodate a lack of effort elsewhere on the field. Nevertheless, what is clear is that the players at Newcastle desperately need to begin believing in themselves again. When they do, they may find the team that played so well in the first half at Old Trafford two weeks ago.
Brighton & Hove Albion
Dale Stephens, Groß, Bong and Pröpper are all recovering from injuries, but all are expected to be fit for the trip to St. James’ Park.
Glenn Murray is 35 and has five goals in the Premier League so far. Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane carry the same tally but play in teams that are clearly better-equipped than Brighton.
There is no explaining Murray’s form, and it is surely a welcome surprise for his teammates and Chris Hughton as Brighton would be in a rather unfavourable position without Murray’s genius in front of goal. Hopefully for Brighton, the Englishman’s form continues; however, the Seagulls must be careful not to be too reliant on one man.
Predicted Starting XI’s:
Newcastle United – (4-4-1-1): Dubravka; Yedlin, Lascelles, Fernandez, Dummett; Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy; Ayoze Perez; Muto.
Brighton & Hove Albion – (4-4-1-1): Mat Ryan; Bruno, Dunk, Duffy, Bong; Knockaert, Kayal, Pröpper, Jahanbakhsh; Solly March; Murray.
Prediction: Newcastle United 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 1
I think Newcastle are beginning to seriously contemplate what another loss could mean for their team. Their recent fixtures have been fairly difficult, and Brighton offers an opportunity to change their fortunes.
The Seagulls are beginning to successfully incorporate their new signings and Premier League newcomer, Jahanbakhsh, was impressive against West Ham. Brighton come into the match with better form, but Newcastle desperately need a win. I think both teams will settle for a draw.