Newcastle United will look to extend their unbeaten Premier League run to eight games and steer clear of the drop zone when they play hosts to Brighton on Saturday afternoon.
Newcastle’s Premier League survival prospects have been boosted significantly after a remarkable run of form in which they have amassed 14 points from six games. Their excellent form has catapulted them from the bottom of the table to 14th position with 25 points from 25 games. The Magpies maintained their fine run of results as they claimed a comfortable 2-0 victory away at Brentford last weekend.
Despite being the second most in-form team in the division, the danger of getting dragged back down into the relegation mire still remains, with Burnley just four points behind them in 18th.
This stellar run must continue if Newcastle want to stay clear of danger, and Saturday’s game against an out-of-form Brighton is another huge chance to widen the cushion to the drop zone. The Seagulls were defeated 2-0 by Aston Villa in their most recent match and have lost each of their last three games while picking up just six points from their last seven games.
Newcastle’s February by numbers:
◉ 4 games
◉ 3 wins
◉ 1 draw
◉ 0 defeats
◎ 7 goals scored
◎ 2 goals conceded
◎ 2 clean sheets
Eddie Howe’s Magpies are flying. ⚫️⚪️ pic.twitter.com/ZngolJua6i
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 3, 2022
For all their inconsistencies of late, Graham Potter’s side remains in the top half of the table with 33 points from 26 games. With tough fixtures against Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Man City on the horizon, Saturday’s visit to the northeast appears to be crucial.
The reverse fixture between the two teams in November last year ended all square, with the sides sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw. But the Seagulls rolled over Newcastle 3-0 twice in the two fixtures last season.
Team News & Tactics
An unbeaten month for the Magpies, but now it’s time to choose your FUN88 Player of the Month for February!
Who gets your vote? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/WJCGlMLOz4
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) March 3, 2022
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe remains without the services of Callum Wilson (calf), Kieran Trippier (metatarsal fracture), Matt Ritchie (knee), Isaac Hayden (knee), and Jamal Lewis (groin), while star winger Allan Saint-Maximin, missing the last two games after sustaining a knock, is doubtful and will be assessed late on. He is unlikely to feature in the starting eleven.
Eddie Howe has no reason to tinker with his tried and tested 4-3-3 formation that has worked wonders for him since the start of 2022. That would imply high-profile January singing Bruno Guimaraes will have to settle for a bench role once more.
Martin Dubravka is a guaranteed starter between the sticks for the Magpies after keeping two clean sheets in the last four games. In defence, there is no looking past the formidable central defensive pairing of Fabian Schar and Dan Burn as they look to keep things solid at the back.
In Trippier’s absence, Emil Krafth has emerged as a solid cover so far and will continue to fill in at right-back ahead of Javier Manquillo, whereas Matt Targett remains a certain starter on the opposite flank after his impressive displays.
Up ahead in midfield, the midfield trio of Joelinton, Jonjo Shelvey and Joe Willock have worked effectively together and offered much-needed dynamism and control in the centre of the park.
Given how well Ryan Fraser performed down the left-flank against Brentford, the Scotsman will continue to operate in that role while the versatile Jacob Murphy will shift across to the right side. Finally, Chris Wood will seek to break his Newcastle duck while spearheading the attack for the Magpies.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Krafth, Schar, Burn, Targett; Willock, Shelvey, Joelinton; Murphy, Wood, Fraser
Brighton & Hove Albion
— Brighton & Hove Albion (@OfficialBHAFC) March 2, 2022
Brighton boss Graham Potter has revealed that centre-back Adam Webster is unlikely to make the trip to St James’ Park as he continues his recovery from a groin injury. Meanwhile, the Seagulls will miss Enock Mwepu and Jeremy Sarmiento (both hamstring), but Adam Lallana could be back in contention to feature in this vital clash.
Potter may opt to go with the same starting lineup that lost 2-0 to Aston Villa last week, although Pascal Gross, Shane Duffy and Danny Welbeck are all pushing for a start. Robert Sanchez is set to start in goal. Guarding him will be the three-man central defensive unit of Joel Veltman, Lewis Dunk, and Marc Cucurella, with the latter having to choose the right moments to join the attack.
Solly March remains a steady presence in the left wing-back role, with Tariq Lamptey maintaining his place on the opposite flank. They will look to exploit the Newcastle defence with their marauding runs, although March could operate in a bit of a deeper role.
Yves Bissouma will look to control the proceedings for Brighton in the middle of the park, with additional support from Jakub Moder and Alexis Mac Allister. The Malian enforcer’s ability to break up the opposition play and carry the ball will be critical for Potter’s system.
Neal Maupay had been tied with Glenn Murray for the club’s all-time leading goalscorer position in the previous three games (26 goals). The Frenchman is anticipated to lead the line up-top alongside Belgium forward Leandro Trossard to exploit the few open spaces behind Newcastle’s backline. The match presents another opportunity for Maupay to become the club’s all-time leading goalscorer in the Premier League.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Cucurella; Lamptey, Mac Allister, Bissouma, Moder, March; Trossard, Maupay
- Newcastle United are winless in their last nine Premier League encounters with Brighton & Hove Albion (D5 L4).
- The Seagulls are unbeaten in their last four away league games against Newcastle (W2 D2) and have yet to concede a goal at St James’ Park in those visits.
- The Magpies are unbeaten in their last seven Premier League games (W4 D3). Only Man United are currently on a longer streak than the Toon (8). This is also Newcastle’s longest undefeated run for over a decade.
- Brighton have lost their last three Premier League matches in a row, failing to score in each of those games.
- The Seagulls head to St James’ Park this weekend with a superior away record this season, with Potter’s side collecting 19 points and losing only twice in 13 away games.
Player to Watch
Fraser has largely flattered to deceive since arriving on Tyneside, majorly interrupted by hamstring and groin injuries when playing under the guidance of Steve Bruce. However, the winger has enjoyed a resurgence since reuniting with former Bournemouth coach Eddie Howe and is steadily emerging as a key contributor to the Magpies’ top-flight survival bid.
Nominated for the Premier League’s Player of the Month for February, the diminutive attacker created a whopping seven chances on his own against Brentford and has the great ability to drive at his man and gain that extra yard to put dangerous crosses into the box. The 27-year-old works tirelessly for the team and will hope to continue his transformation by making a significant impact here.
Newcastle United 2-1 Brighton & Hove Albion
Newcastle United have turned their fortunes around drastically since the turn of the year and have risen from the relegation places. The visitors, meanwhile, are experiencing a significant slump in form. Potter will likely make the Seagulls difficult to break down and another tightly-contested encounter could be on the cards this weekend. However, the Magpies will be brimming with confidence heading into the clash on Saturday. The Hard Tackle predicts the Toon to win all three points, albeit by a slim margin.