This article is part of Football FanCast’s The Chalkboard series, which provides a tactical insight into teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Newcastle’s attack has let them down time after time this season and Steve Bruce could opt to play without a striker against Manchester City.
The Citizens have struggled on their visits to St James Park in recent years and that was mainly due to the way Rafa Benitez made life difficult for them by restricting their usual flow and the space they had to operate in.
Bruce has continued on from the Spaniard in a very similar way, operating with five at the back and looking to contain the opposition before counter-attacking to great effect.
The Magpies beat City in the same fixture last term and the year before that soaked up a great deal of pressure, conceding 78% possession, in a 1-0 defeat.
A similar gameplan could work wonders, therefore, and with the likes of Allan Saint-Maximin running at City’s makeshift back four they could also have some joy at the other end of the pitch.
Man City have looked a little more vulnerable in the league this campaign but they still possess a style and the personnel to really hurt Newcastle, and keeping Gabriel Jesus quiet will be key to picking up points.
Playing without a striker seems like a negative approach but in reality, it could free up the wingers to be more expressive, and the space it would restrict in their defensive half would make it very difficult for City to find a way through.
Joelinton didn’t exactly hold the ball up well against Aston Villa on Monday, either, and with the Brazilian now enduring a run of ten games without a goal it is unlikely he will be missed in an attacking sense, particularly not by the fans.
There is a concern that Saint-Maximin and Miguel Almiron won’t be able to score too since neither has found the net in black and white yet, but they at least provide an outlet on the break and the ability to carry their team up the pitch with their dribbling ability.
The pair have averaged four and one successful dribbles per league game respectively, while also providing a threat in behind the defence if they can be picked out by Jonjo Shelvey or Sean Longstaff, which worked to good effect against West Ham a few weeks ago.
Sacrificing a striker for an extra midfielder should reduce the influence of key men like David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne, and that may just be enough to stop Pep Guardiola’s men.
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