Eddie Howe’s Newcastle side come up against Brentford in the Premier League at St James’ Park on Saturday in the former Bournemouth manager’s first game in charge of the Tyneside club.
The 43-year-old is the third man tasked with winning a league match for the Magpies this season, with Steve Bruce and Graeme Jones falling short before him.
One of the problems Newcastle have faced this season has been their lack of defensive solidity and the inability to keep clean sheets in the top flight. They have recorded zero shutouts and conceded 2.2 goals per game on average in 11 matches this term.
One player he could unleash against Brentford to solve this key issue is Switzerland defender Fabian Schar.
We published an article earlier this month explaining why Howe must axe Ciaran Clark from the team. In that piece, we pointed out that the Irishman’s poor average SofaScore rating of 6.66 across nine starts places him below both Schar and Federico Fernandez in the Newcastle squad this season. This suggests that he does not deserve his place in the XI, which is why the Swiss ace must now be unleashed against Brentford.
It remains to be seen what formation Howe wants to deploy at St James’ Park, but it could dictate who is selected across the rearguard. Jones lined up with a back five against Brighton prior to the international break, with Emil Krafth, Jamaal Lascelles and Clark as the three centre-backs. If Howe wants to play with a traditional back four to include more attack-minded players in the starting XI, then Krafth and Clark could both be dropped in order for Schar to start alongside Lascelles.
The £40k-per-week Swiss titan has previously shown that he has the quality to put in top-drawer performances at Premier League level. He averaged SofaScore ratings of 7.14 and 6.89 respectively in his first two seasons for the club and Howe could benefit from trying to get the best out of him in the coming weeks.
Unleashing him against Brentford from the start could be a good first step in getting Schar back to his peak form, as it would be a sign of faith from Howe in his first match in charge. It would then be down to the 29-year-old to prove that he still has more left to offer, because he could solve Newcastle’s defensive woes if he is able to put in the level of displays he previously showed, as they kept 11 clean sheets in that time.