Newcastle were beaten 2-1 at Chelsea despite a relatively good performance from the Magpies, but Rafael Benitez should consider a formation change when Cardiff City come to St. James’ Park next weekend.
Despite having just two fit central midfielders, Newcastle actually gave a good account of themselves at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, going toe to toe with Chelsea but losing to a wonderful goal by Willian.
The gaffer has clearly decided that three-at-the-back is his favourite formation, especially against the big sides, but next Saturday’s home clash against Cardiff presents a great opportunity to be more aggressive and kick start the season.
Benitez masterminded an epic run of form in the second half of last season to guide the Magpies into the top ten, and a more direct approach against the Bluebirds next weekend could help kick off a similar run.
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There’s no doubt about it; Benitez was right about Salomon Rondon. The Venezuelan international is an absolute handful for opposing defenders, and has scored five goals and added one assist in his last ten league games.
The 29 year-old summer signing can’t do it alone though, and a switch to a more direct 4-4-2 would put someone up alongside the target man to bounce off his hold-up play and help create chances.
A traditional back four will also create overlap opportunities down the flanks, which can only be a good thing with a 6 ft 1 in target man in the box.
The first choice in Benitez’s mind to partner Rondon is probably Ayoze Perez, but this could be the perfect chance to get Kenedy back into last season’s form.
The Brazilian youngster has been pretty woeful as a winger this campaign if truth be told, and working just off of Rondon could reignite his confidence, allowing him space to run in behind when the Venezuelan pins his centre back.
Kenedy is certainly not an elite finisher, but with the freedom to roam about as what some would call a “second striker”, he will wreak havoc on an ageing and slow Cardiff back line.
So, Newcastle fans, what did you think about the Chelsea performance? Should Rafa go all out for three points vs Cardiff? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…