Eddie Howe will be desperate to send St. James’ Park into rapture with a convincing performance over Brentford, having lost the past three league matches to Manchester City, Liverpool and Brighton & Hove Albion.
The Magpies are soon to play Champions League football after blitzing into form last season, defying the odds to clinch a top-four finish over the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.
Thomas Frank’s Bees are cohesive and solid in their work, but United will feel that the cogs can combine to kickstart their campaign on Tyneside today.
What is the latest Newcastle team news?
Newcastle’s worries over the slow start to the campaign have been compounded by a luckless injury record thus far with star centre-back Sven Botman a fitness doubt – having been sidelined since picking up an ankle injury against Liverpool – though there is a possibility he could be included.
Fast-rising midfielder Elliot Anderson also sustained an issue and was forced to withdraw from his maiden call-up to the Scotland international last week, though Howe is equally optimistic that he could feature this evening.
It’s a good thing too, with £55m playmaker Sandro Tonali considered a doubt after missing out on Italy’s 2-1 win over Ukraine on Tuesday night.
Callum Wilson signed a contract extension this week, but the prolific striker will likely start from the bench once again, with club-record £63m talisman Alexander Isak pushing to add to his two strikes this season.
Should Miguel Almiron start today?
Newcastle’s rise over the past 22 months or so has been remarkable, with players such as Joelinton, Fabian Schar and Miguel Almiron finally living up to their potential after languishing for so long.
The latter, Almiron, was particularly destructive last season, especially in the opening phase, scoring 11 goals and supplying two assists in the English top-flight, with nine goals coming in the opening half of the campaign.
So far this term, the Paraguayan has not quite found his feet and has blanked across Newcastle’s four Premier League matches so far, starting on each occasion.
Hailed as “sensational” by journalist Josh Bunting last season, Almiron has perhaps seen his purple patch dulled over the past months, and while he still ranks among the top 14% of attacking midfielders and wingers across Europe’s top five leagues over the past year for goals per 90 and the top 5% for pass completion, as per FBref, it might be wise, given the Magpies’ slow start, to place him on the bench and offer an opportunity for someone else.
Take, for example, Harvey Barnes; signed from relegated Leicester City for £39m this summer, Barnes has already posted a goal and assist apiece despite having yet to receive a starting berth, and his incisiveness could be crucial in bypassing a resolute Bees backline, having scored 13 Premier League goals last term despite the Foxes’ woes.
Anthony Gordon, who has been in fine fettle this season after winning the 2023 U21 Euros Player of the Tournament after gleaning gold with England, could be deployed on the right to accommodate Barnes.
And if that doesn’t please Howe, the industrious Jacob Murphy could earn his first start and first appearance since the opening game of the term, where he set up Barnes’ debut goal despite only playing four minutes of action.
Newcastle have not quite clicked this term, yet Botman’s potential return will be crucial to restoring the equilibrium, discarding Matt Targett after the left-back stood in against Brighton last time out, producing a poor performance, with the Chronicle’s Lee Ryder saying it was “a miserable night capped by late withdrawal” for the Englishman.
Almiron has been immense and a staple of the rise under Howe’s stewardship, but the £60k-per-week ace must now be taken from the starting line-up in a move to freshen things up and offer another talented teammate a chance, and it might pay dividends for the Toon as they seek to dismantle Brentford this evening.