Eddie Howe’s side looked in confident form against newly-promoted Forest but Brighton could prove to be a far sterner test, with the Seagulls impressive once again as they defeated Manchester United 2-1 at Old Trafford.
There is an old footballing cliche which suggests that you should never change a winning team, but Howe could exploit one of Brighton’s weaknesses by unleashing new signing Sven Botman for his full debut.
The Dutch defender, who joined from Lille in the summer, came off the bench in the dying moments against Forest and was greeted rapturously by the Toon crowd.
While it would be difficult to drop Fabian Schar after his wondergoal in last week’s win, Botman was signed for £35m and needs to be integrated into the first team as quickly as possible, as his performances at Lille suggest that he has the potential to become a top defender.
Last season saw the centre-back make 25 appearances in Ligue 1, in which he contributed three goals and one assist, averaging a solid 6.83 rating from WhoScored for his performances.
For comparison, of Newcastle’s centre-back options last season, only Dan Burn would score higher than this, which goes to show what he could add at the back for Howe.
Botman excels at aerial duels and poses a real threat at set-pieces due to his six-foot-four frame and ability in the air. He was practically prolific in Ajax’s academy sides and has continued to contribute goals in his senior career, so can definitely be a threat for the Toon when paired with Kieran Trippier’s set-piece ability.
This could be one way in which Howe gets the edge over Brighton, as despite their impressive defensive record, the Seagulls were vulnerable from set-pieces last season.
Potter’s side conceded 11 goals from set-pieces, which made up 25% of their total 44 goals conceded. Despite their domination at Old Trafford last weekend, the hosts were handed a way back into the match when Robert Sanchez flapped at a corner, before Alexis Mac Allister inexplicably found his own net.
Therefore, Howe could cause Brighton a lot of problems by starting the “very good” Botman on Saturday, and it could just give the Toon the edge they need on the south coast.