Newcastle travel to face Wolves at Molineux on Saturday as they go in search of their first Premier League win of the season.
The Magpies are yet to acquire three points in one go this term and now come up against a Wolves side with two wins from their last three in the league.
Steve Bruce’s side were held to a 1-1 draw by Watford in their last game, with Sean Longstaff scoring at Vicarage Road seven days ago.
How many changes will Bruce make to his team for today? Here is our predicted XI…
We are predicting that he will make three changes to the side from Watford, with Fabian Schar, Jacob Murphy and Jeff Hendrick all coming in.
First of all, we believe that Bruce will revert to a 3-5-2, or 5-3-2 depending on how you view it, to match Wolves’ defensive set-up. Bruno Lage’s side lined up with three centre-backs and two central midfielders against Southampton and that could tempt Bruce into going with a similar setup to avoid being overrun in certain areas.
In order to make this tactical change, Newcastle will need to bring in a centre-back to play alongside Ciaran Clark, who we believe will start despite our article urging Bruce to drop him, and Federico Fernandez. This means Miguel Almiron could be axed from the team to facilitate another central defender, with the 27-year-old coming in for criticism for recent performances.
Changing to a 3-5-2 requires a wide player to be sacrificed and that means Joelinton or Almiron would need to be dropped to the bench for Schar to come in. We are predicting that the Paraguayan will face the axe as Joelinton, with his size and power, is more suited to playing in a front two alongside Allan Saint-Maximin.
Another change which could come as a result of the altered formation is at right wing-back. Murphy enjoyed a successful spell in that position last term, averaging a SofaScore rating of 6.73 in 26 appearances, providing two goals and three assists from defence. This means that bringing him in for Javier Manquillo could be a shrewd call if Bruce opts to go with wing-backs.
Finally, in the middle of the park, Hendrick could come in for Isaac Hayden. The latter had the lowest SofaScore rating (6.8) in the Magpies’ midfield against Watford and the switch to three/five at the back could mean that Bruce doesn’t require an out-and-out defensive enforcer in there. Therefore, Hendrick could come in and be given an opportunity to show what he can do alongside Joe Willock and Sean Longstaff.