Liam Kennedy’s Newcastle United XI v Leeds United - with THREE key changes

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Two teams, both looking for their first Premier League win of the 2021/22 season. Will Newcastle United or Leeds United break their three-point duck this evening?

Our writer Liam Kennedy takes a look at the Magpies XI he would pick at St James’ Park tonight and revises his thoughts on a system change.

System/formation

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I’d like to have seen Steve Bruce go to a four at the back, but it seems to be becoming increasingly obvious he’s not of the mind to do that. So, I’m not going to keep beating that drum on here. Well, not this week, at least.

It’s expected Bruce will go with the 5-3-2 again against Marcelo Bielsa’s Whites - and that’s what we will stick with on NewcastleWorld. Below is the team I think should play tonight - with a few key team tweaks.

GOALKEEPER: Karl Darlow

Now does feel like the right time to take Freddie Woodman out of the Newcastle United, team especially now Darlow is fit and ready to get back in. It’s been a baptism of fire for Woodman, but it was never going to be easy with how easy United are to create chances against.

Freddie Woodman of Newcastle United saves a penalty in the shootout during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on August 25, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.Freddie Woodman of Newcastle United saves a penalty in the shootout during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on August 25, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Freddie Woodman of Newcastle United saves a penalty in the shootout during the Carabao Cup Second Round match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on August 25, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. | Getty Images

RIGHT WING-BACK: Javier Manquillo

Wasn’t covered in glory for Cristiano Ronaldo’s second at Old Trafford but did get himself on the scoresheet with a lung-busting run just before it. A better bet than Jacob Murphy defensively.

Javier Manquillo of Newcastle Uited scores their side’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England. Javier Manquillo of Newcastle Uited scores their side’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England.
Javier Manquillo of Newcastle Uited scores their side’s first goal during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England. | Getty Images

LEFT WING-BACK: Matt Ritchie

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Creates chances. Whatever his defensive faults, his delivery and ability to open up opportunities means he’s cementing himself as one of the first names on the team sheet these days.

RIGHT CENTRAL DEFENDER: Fabian Schar

This was probably the toughest call in many ways. Isaac Hayden is a player who could, with the right coaching, potentially excel in the back three, but is now the right time to reinvent the wheel? Schar gets the nod.

Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United lies on the floor as he looks to be injured during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England. Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United lies on the floor as he looks to be injured during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England.
Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United lies on the floor as he looks to be injured during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England. | Getty Images

LEFT CENTRAL DEFENDER: Federico Fernandez

This is probably the easiest change to make for me. All you have to ask yourself is, is Fernandez a better defender than Ciaran Clark?

And there’s your answer. He plays. Playing your better players, mostly, tends to get the best results.

CENTRE-HALF: Jamaal Lascelles

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It’s hard to say he’s had all that positive an impact on the team this season, but as skipper, for me, remains an automatic pick in the centre of defence. For now, at least.

Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United gestures during the Premier League match between Newcastle United  and  Southampton at St. James Park on August 28, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United gestures during the Premier League match between Newcastle United  and  Southampton at St. James Park on August 28, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.
Jamaal Lascelles of Newcastle United gestures during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton at St. James Park on August 28, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. | Getty Images

CENTRE MIDFIELD: Sean Longstaff

Has come in and done as well as can be expected in the deeper of the midfield roles. Doesn’t naturally suit his skill-set, as he can’t break forward and score goals, but has done a lot of the dirty work well. More development in this position could really prove beneficial for Longstaff.

Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United battles for possession with Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England.Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United battles for possession with Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England.
Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United battles for possession with Sean Longstaff of Newcastle United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford on September 11, 2021 in Manchester, England. | Getty Images

CENTRE MIDFIELD: Joe Willock

Bruce will be relieved Willock has been passed fit for this one, after again showing signs he’s back to his late season best against the Red Devils.

CENTRE MIDFIELD: Miguel Almiron

Much-improved performances at Old Trafford, after a very shaky start to the season. His energy and breaking of the lines could be crucial against a Leeds backline which can be got at.

FORWARD: Allan Saint-Maximin

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Mentioned a million and one times on here the Frenchman is Plan A, B and C for Newcastle United - and this week they need him to turn up with bells and whistles on.

FORWARD: Joelinton

A physical presence against Manchester United but still not good enough for some. A player who continues to struggle to convince the NUFC faithful.

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