With the last two games producing very good performances from two very different Newcastle sides, against Manchester United and Northampton Town – Steve McClaren will have a difficult job deciding what the team should be for Saturday’s early kick-off game at home to Arsenal.
But we would be surprised if he makes too many changes from the side that drew 0-0 at Old Trafford, and will have to defend well against an always good Arsenal side.
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We assume Moussa Sissoko is fit again from his groin strain, and he will likely come straight back into the side.
And with the great display of Florian Thauvin on Tuesday night, we think he will start in place of Gabby Obertan on Saturday, and he will be told to put those high pinpoint crosses over.
Arsenal will likely again have a makeshift central defense – probably former Saints player Calum Chambers and Brazilian Gabriel, who was signed in January from Villarreal.
It’s going to be interesting to see what defense Steve McClaren starts, but there’s a decent chance it will be the same one that did so well at Old Trafford.
Here’s a likely team for Saturday:
Mbemba Taylor Coloccini (c) Haidara
Sissoko Wijnaldum Thauvin
Subs: Darlow Janmaat Tiote Aarons de Jong Perez Cisse
That is some starting side – and the bench is also extremely strong.
For the subs bench we have left out Gabby Obertan which is probably unfair – but it was between Gabby and Ayoze – and yes – it’s getting hard to even be on the bench these days at Newcastle – always a very good sign.
It may also be tough on Janmaat leaving him out, after he has also just been left out of the Dutch squad.
The alternative defense would be more of what we expect to be Newcastle’s starting defense in the future, with the back four being Janmaat, Mbemba, Coloccini and Haidara.
In any case, the 18 players above are very good players and the four senior players we have brought in this summer are all in starting positions, and that’s what you want to see.
What would your team be for Saturday?