The Newcastle United XI that started against Leeds United on Saturday should not be the one that starts against Brighton And Hove Albion on Thursday.
Eddie Howe needs to make a change or two to his Newcastle side, otherwise they could be exposed by a much better team than the one they played against at Elland Road.
Brighton will arrive on Tyneside on the back of their best result of the season, and pose a real threat to our place in the top four. A loss to the Seagulls could really damage our Champions League hopes, so Howe will be desperate for his side to get back to winning ways.
It has been reported that Newcastle will likely make changes to their starting lineup, and the main issue is the front three.
Newcastle’s attack is not functioning like it should
For the games against Arsenal and Leeds, Howe’s front three has looked very different.
Until the Arsenal clash, it was always Callum Wilson or Alexander Isak. It was never both. They have pushed each other to incredible heights, and both players are having 2023s to remember.
However, Howe eventually gave in to temptation and started the pair against the Gunners. Wilson was through the middle, while Isak was deployed on the left.
It didn’t really work, but Howe obviously saw enough to go with it again at Elland Road. Sadly, it didn’t work against Leeds either, and the Toon boss eventually opted for Isak to play centrally just behind the number nine.
Newcastle looked much better with that system, but it would be a shock to see Howe go with it from the off against Brighton. Alternatively, it is difficult to envision both Wilson and Isak starting again.
Alexander Isak should drop to the bench against Brighton
Something has to give. They are both extraordinary players, but one of them needs to start on the bench on Thursday night. And that person should be Isak.
He has been Newcastle’s main man in recent months, and the 23-year-old was even called ‘unplayable‘ by Toon legend Alan Shearer. That certainly was no exaggeration, with Isak taking the Premier League by storm.
The Swede’s level of performance has forced Wilson to get better himself, and now he is enjoying his best ever top flight campaign ever. He is suddenly the most in-form striker again, and now has 17 goals to his name.
The 31-year-old’s confidence is back, which is why he has to start on Thursday night. He has recently been the super sub, but that role will have to go to Newcastle’s record signing.
That should give Howe’s side more balance, while it also means that the Magpies have a game-changer who they can bring on if things aren’t going to plan in the second half.
Playing Wilson and Isak together could work in the future, but it is not working right now, and the size of the Brighton game means this is not a time to take a risk.
Start one. Bench the other. Give the number nine the nod, and let Isak be the impact player in the second half. Howe needs to be ruthless, and that means dropping the £63million forward to the bench.