Newcastle United can secure their place as third in the table heading into the World Cup break with victory over Chelsea at home this evening, with Eddie Howe’s side chasing a fifth successive Premier League win.
The Magpies’ current standing in the top four is a marker of the remarkable job that the former Bournemouth boss has done in just over a year at the helm, with the doom and gloom that plagued the tenure of his predecessor Steve Bruce now a distant memory.
This upcoming meeting with Graham Potter’s side has offered a stark illustration of the Tynesiders’ resurgence of late, with the Blues having notably run out 3-0 winners over their managerless hosts when the two sides met at St James’ Park just over 12 months ago, with Newcastle having at that stage been without a win after a miserable start to the campaign.
Looking to secure a statement win this time around, here’s how we at Football FanCast predict that the home side will lineup:
Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Targett; Joelinton, Guimaraes, Willock; Almiron, Wilson, Saint-Maximin.
Howe will no doubt be sweating on the fitness of striker Callum Wilson heading into that clash, with the 30-year-old – who was handed a surprise inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s England squad this week after almost three years out of the international set-up – a doubt due to illness.
Fellow forward Alexander Isak is still set to be unavailable despite stepping up his return to full fitness, while winger Ryan Fraser is also potentially set to be ruled out due to a calf problem.
Following the midweek win over Crystal Palace in the Carabao Cup, we predict that there will be seven changes for the visit of the west Londoners, with penalty shootout hero Nick Pope set to start in the sticks once again.
The defensive unit will likely see Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar and Sven Botman welcomed back into the side – amid the latter man’s omission from the Netherlands squad – with Matt Targett potentially in line to keep his place at left-back.
In midfield, Bruno Guimares and Joe Willock – who both netted against Southampton last weekend – could return alongside the resurgent Joelinton, with £50k-per-week star Sean Longstaff set to give way.
The academy graduate has been lauded for his “excellent” form of late by his manager, although seemingly let Howe down with his midweek display, having perhaps been in need of a rest after starting the club’s last seven league games.
As for the forward line, the Premier League’s Player of the Month for October, Miguel Almiron, could be joined by the returning Allan Saint-Maximin following the Frenchman’s assist off the bench at St Mary’s, while it could be worth the risk to start the aforementioned Wilson, with the dynamic marksman having scored six goals in ten top-flight games this term.