Eddie Howe is set to be in the dugout for the first time as Newcastle manager as his side face Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday.
He was forced to watch on from his home in isolation for the 3-3 draw with Brentford in the Premier League at St James’ Park last week.
The Magpies head into this clash bottom of the table with six points and are the only team left in the division without a single win to their name.
One change Howe should make to the XI for his first official game comes between the sticks. Karl Darlow had a howler against Brentford and must be brutally axed from the line-up against the Gunners, with Martin Dubravka coming in to replace him.
The ex-Nottingham Forest shot-stopper was given an opportunity to show Howe that he deserves to be the number one for the Magpies, but failed to grasp his chance as he struggled badly against the Bees. He recorded a SofaScore rating of 5.2 and that comes two games after he gave away a penalty against Chelsea and received a score of 5.7 that day.
On Match of the Day, Toon legend Alan Shearer blasted him as looking ‘nervous’ and berated his error for Ivan Toney’s goal, saying: “There were so many mistakes all over the place. Darlow there, it’s a basic error, he had a really poor game. He looked really nervous.”
The Brentford striker hit a low drive slightly to the side of Darlow and the Newcastle goalkeeper went down to his knees, allowing the ball to slip off his gloves and fly into the far corner. It appeared to be a routine save for the £30k-per-week man but it ended up costing the Magpies victory.
Dubravka averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.99 across 13 Premier League games last season but not made a single appearance this term, partly due to injury. It could be time for the Slovakian to come back in for Darlow and make his bow in the 2021/22 campaign, given his 31-year-old colleague’s poor form of late.
Darlow has become a liability between the sticks for Newcastle and Howe cannot afford to have an error-prone goalkeeper in a battle against relegation. Therefore, Dubravka must start and be given the chance to show that he can prove to be an upgrade in goal.