Newcastle United host Norwich City on Wednesday night looking to return to winning ways after a 1-1 draw against Aston Villa following a match they dominated for long periods yet succumbed to a late equaliser.
A game of two halves at Villa Park on Saturday night meant Newcastle were regretting missed chances after Dwight Gayle and Mo Diame both wasted gilt-edged opportunities to turn a one goal lead into 2-0 and ultimately one point for the draw into three after a Tommy Elphick own goal gave The Magpies a deserved first-half lead.
Club Captain Jamaal Lascelles Tweeted after the match:
“That feels like a loss to me, we need to learn how to manage the game better and see teams off. Fight back Wednesday “
For an hour or so, Rafa Benitez’s Magpies bossed the encounter so much that they looked like the home team yet failure to kill the game off came back to haunt the away side when Roberto Di Matteo’s switched to a direct ball game utilising the height of 6ft 3in and 6ft 4in substitutes Aaron Tshibola and Rudy Gestede.
This is how The Magpies can change up to beat visiting League leaders Norwich City on Wednesday night, a team they beat 6-2 in The Premier League last season at St. James’ Park:
- The Gouff Is On Fire – Play Man of the Moment Yoan Forward
Yoan Gouffran has been the early revelation of Newcastle’s season having recovered the attacking instincts he was first bought from Bordeaux for and to play him further forward seems the natural next step.
Whether buzzing behind Aleksandar Mitrovic or Daryl Murphy, who won everything in the air against Wolves on Tuesday night in the EFL Cup, as a no. 10 or even in the lone strike role Rafa has favoured Gayle in so far, push him up front.
Having drilled in an excellent right-footed volley from a Jonjo Shelvey corner away to Derby, he followed it up with a similarly fierce and technically-superb volleyed strike with his left against Wolves.
The Gouff is on fire – let him burn Norwich’s defence down.
2. Grant Hanley Must Play More and Tighten Newcastle Up At The Back
Scottish international Grant Hanley is Newcastle’s best defensive header of a ball so when Aston Villa brought on Rudy Gestede, all 6ft 4in of him and an aerial menace, a like-for-like defensive substitute should have been brought on to combat the different threat.
Villa played for corners and free-kicks realising Newcastle were vulnerable in the air and got their reward when Aaron Tshibola, another tall substitute at 6ft 3in made the Villains extra height count late in the game and The Magpies nearly conceded a second.
Rotation dictates that its horses for courses and with Cameron Jerome up front next for Norwich at St. James’ Park fed by set-piece specialist Robbie Brady from left-wing, Newcastle need to protect themselves in the air again.
A taller, stronger spine of Hanley, Cheick Tiote and Aleksandar Mitrovic will give the Magpies an edge.
3. Karl Darlow Has To Replace Matt Sels
Fair play to Rafa Benitez for showing faith and loyalty to the keeper he brought in from Belgium for a reported £6.5M in the summer yet it is harming The Magpies now as Sels is vulnerable in the air and flaps at the ball.
This is not to justify any personal abuse the player has received on social media in any way, shape or form yet because of that it might be doubly wise to take him out of the firing line until he recovers his composure.
Karl Darlow, a Championship veteran of 100+ games, looks assured between the posts in The Cup where Sels looks shaky and commands his box far better in the air.
Alongside big mate Jamaal Lascelles, the pair’s understanding can provide a defensive platform for Newcastle.
Newcastle also need to put a man on each post at corners, something they found out to their cost yesterday.
4. Mo Diame Needs A Rest or Positional Shift
The scorer of Hull City’s winning goal in The Play-Off Final in May scored 10 goals for The Tigers as he guided them to promotion last year but is yet to notch in a black and white shirt.
Whether he is underwhelmed at the prospect of another arduous Championship campaign when he could be playing Premier League football or another reason, he is yet to find his true form and goal-scoring boots.
When he was at West Ham, he would often feature on the right-wing under Sam Allardyce, where he can cut inside, cause havoc and score.
With DeAndre Yedline bombing down the wing from right-back, Matt Ritchie might be best employed switched onto the left-wing offering The Magpies a different threat with Yoan Gouffran pushed forward.
5. Cheick Tiote Can Raise Newcastle’s Intensity and Provide The Winning Spirit
Newcastle have the best squad in The Championship yet aren’t producing the results their talent should – yet. Rafa Benitez has repeatedly said Newcastle can get better even after the 6-0 win against QPR made it six wins in a row.
“We can still improve. The team was playing well, everybody was pushing and working hard, but you always make some mistakes…
“We now have to show we can concentrate in every game. It doesn’t matter if we score six goals, we get three points in the end. Now have to concentrate on the next game and not lose that concentration.”
Tough-tackling Tiote can ward off complacency and take Newcastle’s game to the next level against the better teams as he strikes fear into the hearts of the opposition & fully-fit, is a man who knows how to grind out wins.
Especially if tigerish Geordie Jack Colback injured, with Cheick involved, Newcastle can capture the do-or-die instinct they need to become Championship Champions starting on Wednesday night.