It’s another week of Premier League football and matchday 10 returns with an exciting clash between Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United and Thomas Frank’s Brentford.
Newcastle has had a mixed run of form in their last few games, winning just one of their last five, however, they have been a difficult team to beat early in the season, with their only defeat in their entire season in all competitions coming against an unlucky faceoff against Liverpool.
As for Brentford, Frank’s side has also come across a side of inconsistency by similarly winning just one of their last five games and yet they have only lost two games in their entire season, including a difficult 3-0 loss against Arsenal and a surprising 3-2 defeat against newly promoted side, Fulham.
On paper, both teams have quite similar results for the season, and both of the early projects that managers have taken on in their respective teams are mirrored, with Howe being determined as the long-term manager under Newcastle’s new owners and Frank being entrusted to grow and develop Brentford as a solid and fixed Premier League side that can improve and progress up the table year-and-year in.
When and Where?
Date: 8th October 2022.
Venue: St. James’ Park.
Time: 15:00 BST.
Referee: John Brooks.
Assistant referees: Ian Hussin, Matthew Wilkes.
Fourth official: Craig Pawson.
VAR: Paul Tierney.
Assistant VAR: Scott Ledger.
Newcastle goes into the fixture with several injuries, including new summer signing Alexander Isak and fellow striker Chris Wood confirmed to miss the game with continued injuries. Now backup goalkeeper Karl Darlow is also expected to miss the game with a long-term injury keeping him out of the side, although his injury may have (in the nicest way possible) been a blessing in disguise for Newcastle as a major new signing to replace Darlow, Nick Pope will continue his great form for the club in goal.
Key player Allan Saint-Maximin is also unlikely to start in the game with a thigh issue lowering his odds of featuring in a key game and long-term injuries to Emil Krafth and Jonjo Shelvey also confirm them to be ruled out of the tie.
For Brentford, the advantage of having fewer players on the injury table will be a huge benefit to Frank with the only major injuries applying to midfielder Christian Norgaard with an injured Achilles and to defender Pontus Jansson, who seemingly struggled in Brentford’s last game against Bournemouth by coming off early with a hamstring issue. Midfielder Keane Lewis-Potter is also expected to miss out with a slight knock and is labelled as ‘doubtful’ for the game.
Newcastle’s last game against Fulham highlighted their potential attacking threat, after scoring four goals to seal their only win in their last six league games. As mentioned previously, it is more than possible to interpret Newcastle’s start to the season as inconsistent, although it would be harsh to not agree that Eddie Howe has strongly reinforced his Newcastle side to make them very difficult to beat.
For Newcastle, the only issue they have had is finding that balance between being defensively solid and also being clinical with their chances in games. The club-record signing of Isak was backed as a massive goalscoring threat for Howe, although his lack of having a consistent run of games with fitness issues means that the Swede has been unable to establish his authority in the league. Admittedly enough, in the games that the striker has played in, he has been able to net two goals in his three appearances – this doesn’t take into consideration that Newcastle failed to win in these games.
After being largely backed in the window by Newcastle’s new ownership, it has been a test of finding out what is the best setup with his new group of players for Howe. It has usually been a setup of a 4-3-3 for Howe this season, with a priority of setting up a midfield block proving to be crucial in their defensive solidity this season. Off the ball, we often see Newcastle’s wingers drop deeper on the pitch to create more of a 4-5-1 shape and create midfield superiority over their opponents. This can easily block passing lanes for the opposition and what is unique about their team is that high pressing from the front is encouraged, risking just three players at the back to stop a potential counterattack by the opposition.
Arguably, the most crucial part of the Newcastle team is the midfield setup. The revelation of Bruno Guimaraes and the conversion of striker, Joelinton, to a box-to-box midfielder, has added a new dimension to Newcastle’s midfield and the way they dictate possession and create ola-scoring opportunities. The Brazilian pair often play between the lines and specialise in dropping deeper to collect the ball, before gradually moving their way up the pitch to receive the ball in a dangerous situation. This fluid movement in attack combines well with the pace that Newcastle possesses on the break to create a solid, yet fast-paced (when necessary) team that has proven to be very challenging to defeat.
Thomas Frank has notably been flexible with the way his Brentford side operates in the switch from a back three to a back four for the season. Similarly to Newcastle, Brentford has lined up in a 4-3-3 shape that focuses on quick build-up play that focuses on overloads in wide spaces – the signing of Aaron Hickey, in particular, has proven to be brilliant at this. Even with the wingbacks pushing forward as often as they do, goalkeeper, David Raya, looks to be instructed to play direct passes more often than not. The Brentford midfield has been instrumental in the execution of the Thomas Frank style of play with the combination of being defensively solid and comfortably dropping deep to play out from the back. Christian Norgaard is an example of such a unique midfielder who thrives in this role, although his injury will prove to be a big loss for the Bees.
In attacking phases, Brentford has proven to be a huge threat on the break. Frank has set up his side to possess great pace and technical abilities on the wings and attacking midfield to create devastating transitions on the break that rely on quick passes through the lines. The hold-up play and finishing ability of Ivan Toney up front for Brentford has added a unique flair to Brentford’s attacking play this season and his five goals in eight appearances this season simply reiterates the threat he will give to Newcastle in the game.
It may be slightly surprising to give the key player label to Newcastle’s main man at right-back, especially considering Miguel Almiron’s recent form, although his dynamic ability to dismantle a team’s half-space between midfield and attack will be a major strength that Howe will undoubtedly use to try to exploit Brentford’s shape.
It will be a big test for full-backs and wingers for both teams, with each side utilising wide areas as essential build-up and attacking outlets, and if Trippier can unleash his creativity and midfield-esque style of play, Newcastle will have a much greater chance of defeating this Brentford side.
Brentford has a diverse group of players in their team that all play a key role in their games although Ivan Toney is usually always the biggest threat on the pitch for Frank. The Englishman is currently Brentford’s top scorer and assister this season and if there was a player in the Brentford side to expose the solidity of Newcastle’s setup, you would put your money on Toney to deliver.
Newcastle predicted lineup vs Brentford: Pope, Trippier, Schar, Burn, Targett, Willock, Guimaraes, Joelinton, Almrion, Wilson, Fraser
Brentford predicted lineup vs Newcastle: Raya, Hickey, Ajer, Mee, Henry, Baptiste, Janelt, Jensen, Mbuemo, Toney, Damsgaard