Seeking to end their unfortunate string of defeats ahead of their Champions League commitments, Newcastle United will host Brentford at St James’ Park in a promising Premier League match this Saturday.
Eddie Howe’s team couldn’t hold their ground in a 3-1 defeat against Brighton & Hove Albion a fortnight ago. On the other hand, the Bees maintained their unbeaten status after securing a 2-2 tie with Bournemouth.
Goals were anticipated when the Seagulls met the Magpies in an intense clash at the Amex Stadium before the international hiatus. However, the loyal Newcastle fans who made the challenging trip southward were disappointed, as a young talent from Ireland decisively defeated Howe’s squad.
Will Evan Ferguson be the difference?
Indeed, young prodigy Evan Ferguson, at just 18, enhanced his market value by netting a remarkable hat-trick for Brighton. Although Callum Wilson managed a late goal for Newcastle, his effort from the bench, understandably, couldn’t change the game’s trajectory.
While narrow defeats to title contenders Manchester City and Liverpool would usually be forgivable, the Magpies’ inability to secure a win against a 10-man Liverpool team was an ominous sign. Their impressive 5-1 victory over Aston Villa on the inaugural weekend now seems like a distant memory.
Due to their lacklustre beginning to the season, Newcastle are in the 14th spot on the leaderboard. They’re about to face a stern test in the Champions League, squaring off against powerhouses Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, and AC Milan. Their challenging encounter with the Italian stalwarts at San Siro looms next Tuesday.
Can Howe turn it around?
Before confronting Europe’s elite, Howe has a pressing challenge: reversing Newcastle’s recent downturn, where they’ve managed only two victories in their last nine Premier League matches. Their lone clean sheet in their past 15 league games was against a relegated Leicester City. It’s also worth noting that Newcastle has yet to endure four consecutive losses in the league since the tenure of Steve Bruce in January 2021.
Fans at the Gtech Community Stadium were treated to a goal fest when Brentford squared off against Bournemouth in the fourth gameweek. An exquisite free kick by Mathias Jensen put the home team ahead just seven minutes into the match, only for Dominic Solanke and David Brooks to hush the London supporters.
It appeared Thomas Frank’s team was heading towards their first defeat of the season. However, deep into the injury time of the second half, the dependable Bryan Mbeumo dashed forward to salvage a draw for the home side. Notably, Brentford has earned a reputation for drawing matches early in the season.
Although the visitors, currently in eighth place, have remained unbeaten in their last four matches of the season, the sole victory in that run was against their London counterparts, Fulham. They also settled for a 1-1 tie with Newport County in the EFL Cup, ultimately emerging victorious in the penalty shootout.
Even without the presence of Ivan Toney, the Bees maintain their offensive prowess. They’ve tasted defeat in only one of their past 11 Premier League matches – a 1-0 setback at Liverpool in May. As of now, Frank’s squad boasts an impressive seven-match unbeaten streak in the league.
Yet, long-standing Brentford supporters might prefer to focus on something other than their team’s track record against Newcastle. Since their ascent to the Premier League, they haven’t managed to overcome the Magpies in all four encounters, though they did clinch a narrow victory in the EFL Cup quarter-finals of the 2020-21 season, thanks to a goal from Josh Dasilva.
Will injuries play a part?
Injuries have impacted several standout players during the international break, including Newcastle’s key summer acquisition, Sandro Tonali, who sat out Italy’s triumph over Ukraine due to a muscular issue. He remains questionable for Brentford’s upcoming visit and anticipated return to San Siro against Milan.
In addition to Tonali, Joe Willock is sidelined with a calf injury, Emil Krafth with an ACL tear, and Javier Manquillo with a groin problem. Sven Botman was absent from the game against Brighton because of an ankle injury, and it’s uncertain if he’ll recover in time for Brentford’s match. Elliot Anderson’s condition also remains in doubt.
If Tonali isn’t available for the Milan match, Anderson and Sean Longstaff could be vying for a position in the midfield three. If Botman doesn’t return promptly to the starting lineup, Lewis Hall might be considered for a debut, especially after Matt Targett’s recent performance left much to be improved upon.
On the other hand, Josh Dasilva, the 2020-21 EFL Cup hero for Brentford, won’t be recreating his magic against Newcastle due to a significant thigh injury. Shandon Baptiste is also on the sidelines for an extended period after a shoulder dislocation.
Mikkel Damsgaard missed the tie with Bournemouth and Denmark’s international games because of an adductor problem. However, Frank hopes the 23-year-old will be fit to face Newcastle, likely starting from the bench.
While Ivan Toney remains unavailable until January, Everton loanee Neal Maupay returns for Brentford. Yet, the attacking front of Mbeumo, Kevin Schade, and Yoane Wissa is expected to stay consistent for now.