Newcastle: Benitez on formation; striker wants celebrations to continue; Preston reaction
The win over Preston could be a significant one for Newcastle as it was the first time in recent weeks that they were under pressure and perhaps didn’t deserve the three points.
The home side bounced back from the EFL Cup match superbly and couldn’t have done much more to secure a positive result.
However, Newcastle dug in and they are beginning to go into every match believing that they will win, showing the attitude of champions. When asked about what pleased him most about the win, Benitez responded:
“In general the team spirit,”
“The work-rate of the team and the organisation were fine.
“You cannot avoid one or two situations where you are under pressure and make a mistake or they take advantage.”
This again emphasises the change that has taken place in the Newcastle dressing room in such a short space of time. Last season, the team spirit was being blamed for defeats as the players lacked the togetherness required to pull together and win matches when things weren’t going their way. However, Benitez has brought in the right characters and now every person at the club is pulling in the same direction. They are going to be a difficult force to stop this season.
Aleksandar Mitrovic is in great form and has given his manager a selection headache next weekend. Dwight Gayle is likely to be back in contention, but his replacement has scored four goals in two goals. It would be difficult for Benitez to justify dropping the Serbian as he has worked hard and scored goals. Although Dwight Gayle is the league’s top scorer, Mitrovic has a good strike rate this season and there is real competition for places. The Serbian is a cult hero and has celebrated with the fans during the last two matches, here is what he has said about his celebration:
“I hope we can win again so that we can all jump together.”
The striker has been dancing to the chant that the fans sing about him after the last two victories and he will be hoping that it is a trend that continues. He is in inspired form and looks capable of scoring more than 20 goals this season, if he is given the game-time on the pitch. Despite the return of Gayle, Mitrovic should be given another chance to start next Saturday and show that he can be an asset for the side this season.
The Newcastle fans are hoping that Mitrovic is partnered with Dwight Gayle at some point this season, but the manager is reluctant to commit to that. Benitez has been married to the 4-2-3-1 throughout his career and it is the formation that he has used for the majority of his time as Newcastle manager. Although he can be pragmatic if required, it would take a huge shift for the Spaniard to start with two strikers. He used both players to great effect against Norwich, but it was a desperate time and called for desperate measures.
“If they score two goals, each one every time that they play, I’m not too worried about playing one at a time,”
“Maybe the other one can score two goals and I’ll be happy with that.
“No-one can guarantee that if you play with two strikers you will be much better.”
These comments from Benitez are fascinating and provide a look into how he selects teams. A move to two strikers would mean that both players get on the pitch, but it could hinder the team in other ways. Newcastle are currently on a great run of form and there is no need to change the team in such a drastic way. The competition for places is healthy and Benitez will be hoping that both keep scoring, despite the selection problem that it poses.
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