An exciting clash between Newcastle United and Brentford at St James’ Park will drop the curtain on Saturday’s rich Premier League programme.
Eddie Howe must have been relieved to hear the international break bells ringing after Evan Ferguson’s hat-trick condemned his side to a 3-1 defeat at Brighton & Hove Albion last time out.
Newcastle couldn’t have hoped for a better way to start the new top-flight campaign following last season’s fourth-place finish than to dismantle Aston Villa 5-1 on home turf on day one.
However, the Magpies’ wheels have since fallen off, with Howe overseeing three league defeats on the trot, including a stomach-wrenching 2-1 loss to 10-man Liverpool in his last home game.
With a high-profile Champions League encounter against Sandro Tonali’s former employers, AC Milan, coming up next, Newcastle will be desperate to find a way out of the crisis against Brentford.
But if the Bees’ past two top-flight seasons have taught us anything, they are not a side you’d want to meet amid a rotten patch, hence our ambitious 2023/24 Brentford season predictions.
Thomas Frank’s side have established themselves as the early stalemate specialists in the Premier League, drawing three out of four league matches, barring a 3-0 demolition of Fulham on day two.
Even without their talismanic striker Ivan Toney, the Londoners went into September’s international break as one of only six sides in England’s elite society yet to lose a league match this term.
Since smashing five past Villa in a curtain-raising fixture, Newcastle’s frontline has gone radio silent, failing to score more than once in their last three Premier League outings.
It’s been over two decades since the Magpies last had to cope with the Champions League challenges on top of their domestic duties, so racking up as many points before the competition’s start was Howe’s target.
Six isn’t the ideal number, yet the ex-Bournemouth manager will settle for it, given the circumstances, and especially the fact his men have blown hot and cold across their last three home league games (W1, D1, L1).
Newcastle can draw inspiration for reigning supreme against Brentford, having won three consecutive top-flight meetings with the Bees since a 3-3 home draw in November 2021.
Toney’s absence has done virtually nothing to derail the potency of Brentford’s attack, with the visitors bagging at least two goals in three of their four Premier League matches this term.
Bringing a 3-1 drubbing of Tottenham Hotspur on last season’s final weekend into the equation, the Bees are on the cusp of a three-game winning run in away Premier League action for the first time.
However, their only previous Premier League visits to St James’ Park have seen them concede 3+ goals, suggesting even their free-flowing frontline may need to punch above their weight to get them over the line.
Frank will trust Bryan Mbeumo’s safe pair of boots to help Brentford post their first top-flight win over Newcastle, with the Cameroonian starting this round as the division’s second joint-best scorer with four goals.
Howe won’t be able to count on Emil Krafth, Joe Willock and Javier Manquillo, but Sven Botman’s minor ankle problem will make the Newcastle boss sweat.
Brentford will make this journey without suspended Toney and long-term absentees Josh Dasilva and Shandon Baptiste, with Mikkel Damsgaard remaining a slight doubt.
Newcastle United potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Nick Pope; Kieran Trippier, Fabian Schar, Dan Burn, Matt Turner; Sandro Tonali, Bruno Guimaraes, Joelinton; Miguel Almiron, Alexander Isak, Harvey Barnes.
Brentford potential starting line-up:
(4-3-3): Mark Flekken; Aaron Hickey, Nathan Collins, Ethan Pinnock, Rico Henry; Christian Norgaard, Vitaly Janelt, Mathias Jensen; Bryan Mbeumo, Yoanne Wissa, Kevin Schade.
We Say: Newcastle United 2-2 Brentford
This fixture has a high-scoring drama written all over it, but we can envisage Newcastle and Brentford sharing the spoils.
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