Steve Bruce is expected to make a handful of key changes to his starting line-up at Arsenal after admitting he “picked the wrong team” for Newcastle United’s midweek defeat to Sheffield United.
The Magpies earned the ignominious honour of becoming the first side to lose a Premier League game to Chris Wilder’s Blades this season when beaten 1-0 on Tuesday, and Bruce accepts he was too defensive in his team selection.
“In hindsight, I picked the wrong team. I have to come in front of you [the media] and accept that, and accept that the performance was nowhere near good enough,” Bruce said, via quotes by The Northern Echo.
Bruce is also facing injury concerns ahead of returning to the Emirates Stadium on Monday night, the place where Newcastle exited the FA Cup just nine days before. So, with that in mind, here’s a potential line-up the Toon may field in north London…
Martin Dubravka returned from a heel injury to make his first appearance of the season during Newcastle’s FA Cup defeat at Arsenal, but will be expected to watch from the sidelines as Karl Darlow chases a fourth clean sheet in what would be his 18th top-flight outing of the campaign.
Jamaal Lascelles also opened the cup affair earlier this month as he made his return following several weeks out after testing positive for coronavirus, and Bruce hopes to have the 27-year-old in the side to face Mikel Arteta’s Gunners this week, likely in place of Federico Fernandez.
“Jamal Lewis could come back into the frame. The captain, Jamaal Lascelles, could come back in – we’ll see how he is after a week’s training after the COVID,” Bruce said. “We’ve got a problem with Fernandez.”
Bruce had fielded a very defensive midfield at Sheffield United with Jeff Hendrick and Isaac Hayden anchoring the unit and Sean Longstaff playing out wide, but will likely only retain Hayden at Arsenal.
Longstaff registered the second-lowest match rating at Bramall Lane by a visiting player on Tuesday night at 5.9 by WhoScored, having failed to create any chances to score, take a shot and only won possession with one of his four tackles.
The £16m-rated dud will likely be replaced by Miguel Almiron, who joins Matt Ritchie in providing the attacking width with Allan Saint-Maximin still weeks away from a return and Ryan Fraser suspended.
Matty Longstaff will hope to be given the call to partner Hayden in north London after sitting out the Blades defeat, having played the full 90 minutes in each of Newcastle’s three prior Premier League games and holding his own in defeat to Leicester City earlier this month.
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