Newcastle United will look to extend their unbeaten streak in the Premier League to seven games when they travel to Brentford on Saturday afternoon.
Brentford need to start looking over their shoulder after going seven league games without a win – a run that has seen them drop down to 14th position with 24 points, just four points clear of safety.
The hosts come into this match after a dismal 2-1 defeat at Arsenal last weekend, and the team’s form at this point in the season is a cause for real concern, given teams below them are stitching together strong results and have multiple games in hand over the Bees.
On the other hand, against all odds, Newcastle have put together a six-game unbeaten run in the Premier League and lifted themselves out of the relegation zone. Eddie Howe’s side are currently sitting 17th in the league standings, two points ahead of 18th-placed Burnley and just five points behind 12th-placed Leicester City, demonstrating how close things are in the bottom half of the league table.
The Magpies earned a deserved point after playing out a 1-1 draw with West Ham United last time out. Newcastle’s main objective would be to create and maintain a healthy lead over the 18th spot until the end of the season in order to avoid being relegated.
The reverse fixture between the two sides at St James’ Park back in November last year ended in a thrilling 3-3 draw, with both sides sharing the spoils. This is a crucial fixture in the context of the relegation battle. Should Newcastle win here, they will jump above the Bees in the league standings and surge as high as 14th if results go their way.
Team News & Tactics
In a major boost for Thomas Frank’s side, star striker Ivan Toney will be back in contention to face his former club Newcastle following a spell out with injury. Christian Eriksen has been working on his match fitness in behind-closed-door games during the last week and could feature for the first time here.
"@ChrisEriksen8 will be in the squad and he will get on the pitch tomorrow. It’s a big day for all of us but especially Christian and his family" ?
— Brentford FC (@BrentfordFC) February 25, 2022
Mathias Jensen was forced off with a knee injury in the defeat against Arsenal and will be evaluated before Saturday’s game against Newcastle, but Tarique Fosu and Julian Jeanvier remain out.
Frank could stick with his preferred 3-5-2 formation, with defensive resilience and set-piece opportunities at the core of their playing style. David Raya will continue in goal for the Bees. The Spanish goalkeeper will be protected by the usual three-man central defensive unit comprising Kristoffer Ajer, Pontus Jansson, and Ethan Pinnock.
The width in attack will come from the wing-back duo of Sergi Canos and Rico Henry, who will be given the license to maraud forward to cause the opposition problems and provide quality deliveries into the box.
Josh Dasilva may not be ready to start successive games after just returning from a long time on the sidelines, so Christian Norgaard, Vitaly Janelt and Shandon Baptiste are expected to form a midfield trio as they look to keep track of Newcastle’s midfield runners as well as provide necessary attacking support.
Should Toney become available, Yoane Wissa will likely drop to the bench, with Bryan Mbeumo a certain starter next to the target-man for the Bees.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Raya; Ajer, Jansson, Pinnock; Canos, Baptiste, Norgaard, Janelt, Henry; Mbeumo, Toney
Unlike his counterpart in the Brentford dugout, Eddie Howe has plenty of pressing fitness issues to contend with ahead of the trip to the Brentford Community Stadium. Allan Saint-Maximin has been ruled out for a further few weeks, adding to Newcastle’s injury woes following reports that Kieran Trippier may not play again this season.
Meanwhile, Callum Wilson (thigh), Isaac Hayden (Knee) and Matt Ritchie (knee) all remain unavailable through respective long-term injuries, but both Javier Manquillo and Ryan Fraser have been spotted in training and could shake off their issues in time to feature here.
Eddie Howe on #NUFC's current form:
"The (transfer) window enabled us to add some very good people to the group but I do think the players we've had have progressed through the weeks and improved. Put that mix together and it's been a powerful one for us." pic.twitter.com/pUeOL8chmC
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) February 25, 2022
Howe will set his team up in their customary 4-3-3 formation and could keep changes to a minimum for this game given their strong run of form of late. Martin Dubravka will feature between the sticks for the Magpies after being barely troubled at West Ham last time out.
In defence, club captain Jamaal Lascelles might have to contend with a spot on the bench once again, with the central defensive pairing of Fabian Schar and Dan Burn only conceding once in their last two league outings. Javier Manquillo will return to slot in straight at right-back ahead of Emil Krafth, whereas Matt Targett will provide a composed presence from left-back.
Up ahead in midfield, Jonjo Shelvey will be tasked to anchor the midfield, with Joelinton and Joe Willock offering forward thrust as well as defensive support. Finally, Ryan Fraser and Jacob Murphy will try to put their pace to good use on either flank to stretch the Bees’ defence and deliver some quality crosses to feed Chris Wood up top.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Dubravka; Manquillo, Schar, Burn, Targett; Willock, Shelvey, Joelinton; Fraser, Wood, Murphy
- Newcastle United are unbeaten in their last five league meetings against Brentford (W4 D1).
- Brentford have lost six of their last seven Premier League matches (D1).
- Brentford have lost seven of their 14 Premier League games at home this season (W4 D2).
- The Bees will face a Newcastle side with the second-worst away record in England’s top tier, with the Magpies picking up only seven points from their 11 games on the road.
- Brentford have netted just three goals in their last six games, while Newcastle have not scored more than one goal in an away game in the Premier League this term.
Player to Watch
Joe Willock’s decisive goal earned Newcastle a draw at West Ham, and his performance indicates he could play an important role in helping them steer clear of trouble. The goal meant Willock got on the scoresheet for the first time since signing permanently last summer, following a successful loan spell in the second half of last season in which he scored eight times from 14 top-flight outings for the Magpies.
The 22-year-old’s energy, athleticism and lung-busting runs can cause the opposition plenty of problems. With Kieran Trippier and Allan Saint-Maximin out injured, Willock’s attacking threat, goal-poaching instincts and ability to make runs in behind the opposing defence will make him a vital asset in the coming weeks.
Brentford 0-1 Newcastle United
Brentford’s recent run has been exceedingly poor, and they appear to have lost their zip. In fact, they are on a nine-game winless streak in all competitions, and their last victory came in early January against League Two side Port Vale in the FA Cup.
Meanwhile, Newcastle head to Brentford with a bounce in their step, having collected 12 points out of a possible 18 in their last six Premier League games. Only Manchester United (7) are currently on a better unbeaten run than the Magpies (6). The Hard Tackle predicts an in-form Newcastle to come away with all three points with a hard-fought 1-0 victory at Brentford.