Newcastle United supporters have been very flat in the Transfer Tavern this week after seeing their side lose 1-0 at Burnley on Monday night, thus suffering a fourth Premier League defeat of the campaign.
Rafa Benitez’s men went into their meeting with the Clarets off the back of beating basement club Crystal Palace 1-0 at St James’ Park, and would have been confident of recording a second successive win at Turf Moor. However, they produced a meek display and ultimately returned home with nothing as a Jeff Hendrick strike 16 minutes from time was enough to secure a deserved 1-0 victory for Sean Dyche’s men, a result which moved them above the Magpies and into seventh in the Premier League table.
Thus, several of our resident Newcastle fans have been very quiet in the Tavern this week, although many have been trying to forget Monday’s game by turning their attentions to their crucial encounter against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth at St James’ Park on Saturday.
And much talk has been about what Benitez could do to tweak his starting eleven for the visit of the Cherries, but perhaps one fundamental change takes even greater precedence, namely a formation change.
Benitez has stuck with a 4-2-3-1 system for all but one game so far this season, with a 4-4-1-1 implemented against Burnley on Monday night.
But looking at the options he has at his disposal, as well as the struggles Ayoze Perez is having with his form, a 4-3-3 formation may be better against the Cherries, as midfielder Jonjo Shelvey could really orchestrate things from the middle of the park.
Ultimately, having three midfielders in the middle gives the 25-year-old more licence to roam and use his superior passing skills to launch attacks and get into good attacking positions.
In a midfield two in front of the back four, the England international is somewhat restricted given his obligation to do defensive duties, but in a three there would be less emphasis on him to do those as the other two, likely to be Isaac Hayden and Mo Diame, would provide adequate security in that department.
Changing the system also sorts out the problem of what to do with Perez, as the Spaniard may well work hard and give his all for the cause, but just one goal and one assist in ten Premier League appearances from a number ten is simply not what is required.
Ultimately, Shelvey is Newcastle’s best player on the ball, so getting him involved in the right areas of the pitch, against a Bournemouth side who aren’t as physically imposing as Burnley and look to attack themselves, could seriously reap the rewards.
Playing a front three of Christian Atsu, Matt Ritchie, and Joselu, the latter who hasn’t been in great form recently, would also give the £5 million summer signing slightly more assistance in his quest to hold the ball up and bring others into play.
Of course, the beauty of playing a system like that is that it is easily transferable to a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-5-1 if so required, but starting off against a team that likes to attack and create openings in a 4-3-3 could seriously benefit Newcastle on Saturday.
Newcastle fans… what do you think? Let us know!