Brighton Home Preview 16/17

Tough Teatime Fixture For Rafa's Men

Newcastle are back in league action today after the midweek cup victory as they entertain Chris Hughton's Brighton and Hove Albion tonight at St James' Park looking to make it 4 wins in a row in all competitions.

This will undoubtedly though be our toughest examination so far with Brighton unbeaten in the league so far this term with 2 wins and 2 draws following on from a great season last season where they missed out on automatic promotion on goal difference.

That shows there appears to be no hangover and they look determined to go one step further this year and I certainly think they will be up there this season so this is a real big game for us if we want to keep our mini revival going after the first couple of bad results.

Sadly our task has been made even harder today following the injuries on Tuesday to Mitrovic, Gayle and Aarons. The young winger isn't too much of a miss as we have plenty of other options but the other 2 are massive losses and leaves us lookign very lightweight up front with Ayoze Perez the only real option.

Yes he is a good player but I don't think he is someone that can play that lone striker role - we tried it at Everton last season and it just didn't work. If he does play up there then we need to get people near him. Personally I would look to maybe give someone like Riviere a recall whilst he is still on our books as one thing he can do is put himself about and hold the ball up but with a move away for him looking likely before the dealine I would guess that is unlikely.

I know there is nothing we can do about it now and it was a touch unlucky to have 2 players get concussion on Tuesday but I have to say I thought it was a real poor decision from the manager to bring Gayle on when Mitrovic was forced off given that this game was on the horizon.

I know hindsight is a wonderful thing but it just seemed like Tuesday was a good opportunity to rest Gayle with him in decent form and we should surely have had enough to beat Cheltenham without risking him especially after losing Mitrovic so early. It was 35 minutes in and 0-0, it wasn't as if he was brought on with us losing or struggling with 10-15 minutes left.

People may think I am making a bit of a big thing of that but as much as I respect Rafa I have to say I do find the way he seems to be totally exempt form any criticism a little frustrating - this for me has to go down as a mistake and I just hope it doesn't cost us today.

There has been a lot of rotation in the opening games as Rafa looks to find a winning formula so it will be interesting to see how we line up today especially with the lack of strikers.

I expect a debut at right back for Yedlin but other than that I think every position at the back is up for grabs by the looks of things. I'd go Mbemba and Lascelles as I think they are our strongest pair and have the pace that Hanley and Clark don't seem to which I think will be useful against Brighton. Not sure about left back - Gamez obviously got a game midweek but I would probably expect Dummett to come back in.

The midfield selection will be the interesting one - Hayden for me is an automatic pic and personally at home at least I like to see Shelvey alongside him for creativity. You are then probably looking at Diame behind Perez with Ritchie one side and probably either Anita or Gouffran the other which is obviously the weakness in our side that we are trying to rectify.

Obviously one of the players we have looked at to fill that spot is Brighton's Anthony Knockaert who I think will be a real threat to us tonight. Lets hope he doesn't show us what we are missing.

Finally tonight obviously sees a return to St James' Park for former manager Chris Hughton who I am sure will get a fantastic reception before kick off after the wonderful job he did here. I just hope he leaves disappointed in a footballing sense after the 90 minutes!

Tough one to call this one but I think it will be a good measure of where our team is at even if it is early in the season. Just really disappointed to have to go into this one without the 2 main strikers but that is football and you have to cope with injuries and suspensions so we need to find a way to cope without them. I just really hope we don't see 90 minutes of us banging long balls up to Perez or I think there will only be one outcome in this one. Hope we can win but I have to say I am thinking a score draw is maybe more likely.

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