Top Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has called for Newcastle United’s first-team stars to stand up and be counted, in order to help manager Steve Bruce move into a strong position at St. James’ Park.
The Magpies host Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday evening in front of the Sky Sports cameras, but are yet to secure all three points at home under the leadership of Bruce.
Newcastle, who head into the weekend inside the bottom three, have so far taken one point from a possible six at St. James’ Park, with Arsenal taking the spoils back to North London during the opening weekend, before Watford were pegged back shortly before half time by Fabian Schar when the Hornets made the trip to the North East three weeks later.
Saturday’s visitors Brighton, meanwhile, make the pilgrimage from the south coast having taken their sole win of the campaign when on the road, but are yet to put another victory in the column under Graham Potter since beating Watford 3-0 on matchday one.
The Seagulls’ win at Vicarage Road was also the only league fixture in which the Amex Stadium natives have kept a clean sheet this season, with Potter’s side shipping eight in the other four top-flight encounters – four of which came at Manchester City.
Sky Sports pundit Nicholas is now looking forward to seeing who can come out on top between Newcastle and Brighton, but feels it will be the Magpies to a scoreline of 3-1.
“It does not have a glamour tag on it, but I am really interested to see how they will both go about it,” the former Celtic and Arsenal striker penned in his weekly predictions. “Steve Bruce has done a decent job so far and he is trying to ease the tension between him and the fans, who will expect their side to win this match.
“It is a golden opportunity for these players to help Bruce slide into a decent position. Joelinton will find his feet, while Miguel Almiron is playing on the edge of games and has been tame at times – it is time for him to fire.
“Brighton started the season superbly, but then what has Graham Potter’s style been thereafter? Their back three is always consistent in what they give you, but Newcastle will find ways to exploit it.”
While Nicholas expects Newcastle to exploit Brighton’s backline, the Seagulls defence has actually travelled well this season, despite their struggles to keep a clean sheet.
Only five of last season’s top six, along with Everton and Watford, have allowed the opposition to fashion fewer shots on average than Brighton so far this term, who also rank joint-fifth for tackles attempted away from home, according to WhoScored.
Brighton also attacked City far more than most teams do when they travel to the Etihad Stadium, and received the praise of Pep Guardiola after the game for their efforts (Manchester Evening News).
If the Seagulls travel with the same intent to go after Newcastle as they did the reigning champions, the encounter on Tyneside could easily be a wide-open affair.
Newcastle fans, what are your expectations going into the Magpies’ encounter with Brighton & Hove Albion? Let us know in the comments below…
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