Liam Kennedy’s Newcastle United XI for Wolves - with one key defensive tweak

Newcastle United take on Wolverhampton Wanderers this afternoon looking for their first win of the Premier League season - and here’s Liam Kennedy’s take on team selection.

Winless Newcastle United.

Seven games in, it’s hardly the three words you’d be wanting to put together. But here we are, heading to Molineux with just three points to show for the opening six in the Premier League and one in the Carabao Cup.

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This isn’t how it was supposed to play out.

So, should Steve Bruce stick with the status quo in the Midlands or change things up?

Liam Kennedy takes a look at the team he’d play and the system.

Steve Bruce, Manager of Newcastle United is interviewed by the media prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Newcastle United at Vicarage Road on September 25, 2021 in Watford, England.

System - stick or twist?

Has to be stick for me.

United were so close to getting that all important win against Watford, but for a second half collapse.

As Bruce said, they did create enough chances to win three games, never mind one.

Let’s go with the 4-3-3 then - and here’s my team...

Karl Darlow of Newcastle Uited is seen during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Leeds United at St. James Park on September 17, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

GOALKEEPER: KARL DARLOW

Has done well since coming back in, but does feel like he’s on a stay of execution with Martin Dubravka just a week or so away from being back in full training.

RIGHT BACK: Javier Manquillo

Has massively improved the defensive unit since his return to fitness. Amazing what can be achieved when you play players in their correct positions.

LEFT BACK: Matt Ritchie

Not a left-back, but on current form, offensively at least, he’s undroppable. I’ve seen calls for Jamal Lewis to come in - and I get that - but Ritchie’s frequency of creating chances is very hard to replicate.

CENTRE-BACK: Federico Fernandez

Jarred Gillett, the match referee interacts with Federico Fernandez of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Watford and Newcastle United at Vicarage Road on September 25, 2021 in Watford, England.

Said before and I’ll say it again, still easily the best defender in Newcastle United’s ranks. He’s a player who should NEVER be out the side, no matter who returns to fitness.

CENTRE-BACK: Fabian Schar

This is the change I’d make to the side. Ciaran Clark has looked decent but I still think you should always play your best players, if possible, and it seems a waste to have Schar benched.

CENTRE MIDFIELD: Isaac Hayden

Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United celebrates scoring his sides first goal with team mates during the Premier League match between Watford and Newcastle United at Vicarage Road on September 25, 2021 in Watford, England.

Is a player who does the dirty work for the other two in midfield and acts as a shield for the backline.

CENTRE MIDFIELD: Joe Willock

His fitness is back and his form is following suit. Not, for the chances and goals. Trained all week and should be fine after his recent foot issue.

CENTRE MIDFIELD: Sean Longstaff

Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United scores their team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Watford and Newcastle United at Vicarage Road on September 25, 2021 in Watford, England.

In this role, Longstaff gets to push high, like Willock on the other side, and he’s performing very well. Up there with United’s best this season, and would be right at the top with ASM, if he cuts out gifting possession away cheaply.

RIGHT FORWARD: Miguel Almiron

It’s been an up and down season for the Paraguayan, who has been shifted around a fair bit. But further forward is where he can hurt teams - so this role, although wide, does suit him better than a central midfield slot.

LEFT FORWARD: Joelinton

His physical presence is a huge boost to this team, so too is his workrate and commitment. Might be changing a few minds lately, his performances certainly deserve it.

STRIKER: Allan Saint-Maximin

It ain’t his proper position but he’s certainly excelling in it, of late. And long may that continue.