Newcastle have another tough task following the international break, as Arsenal head to the North East.
The Magpies are currently in the bottom three with just one point. However, they have played well in defeat to Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester City.
Arsenal present another tough task, but they are arguably the ‘easiest’ of Newcastle’s games against the Premier League’s elite.
With the pressure on Newcastle to get their first win, how should Rafa Benitez approach the game against the Gunners?
Drop the defensive approach
In their previous two league games, Newcastle have deployed a rigid back five.
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That means one central defender will have to be dropped. It’s safe to say that Jamaal Lascelles is (almost) guaranteed to start, but his partner isn’t as obvious.
Ciaran Clark has started every game so far this season, but he should drop out to allow the experienced Federico Fernandez to partner the skipper.
Fernandez has impressed so far in his Newcastle career, proving to be another astute signing.
Injured players returning?
Newcastle have missed Jonjo Shelvey during his absence, so news of his possible return is encouraging.
The number eight should come back into the alongside his partner in crime Mo Diame, who has struggled so far this season. That means Ki Sung-Yueng would drop to the bench, but the South Korean’s time will come later in the season.
Newcastle will need energy in the middle of the park to get about Arsenal, which is why Diame should start.
As for Matt Ritchie, he also missed Newcastle’s last game due to injury. The former Bournemouth winger often sets the tempo for the Magpies, and scored the winner against Arsenal last season.
If he’s fit, Ritchie must come back into the team, and would likely replace one of the central defenders and allow Ayoze Perez to move back in the middle.
However, it is reported that Ritchie’s return is less likely, which means there will possibly be a spot up for grabs out wide. A straight fight between Jacob Murphy and Christian Atsu should see the former prosper and start against the Gunners.