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Newcastle United have now won each of their last three games in the Premier League, after being knocked out early from the League Cup, by Nottingham Forest last month. Rafa Benitez is evidently unhappy with the options at his disposal but is trying hard to make things happen, and the last three victories will give them loads of confidence going into the next game of the season.
The Magpies face a resilient Brighton and Hove Albion side, that managed to steal promotion last season from the Championship. Brighton have now won just one of their first five league games but will see this home tie as an opportunity to get some points under their belt. So, Rafa’s men will have to be at their best to get anything from this tie. Here are three things the manager needs to do, to make sure that they come out of this game with all three points:
The Magpies have a decent squad with options galore for almost every position in the squad. Only Ayoze Perez, Ciaran Clark and Isacc Hayden have played all five games this season, with Rafa choosing to make changes constantly. They have a closely knit squad and the manager has to make sure that he gets the right combination against a Brighton side, that know the ins and outs of their opponents at the weekend.
Chris Hughton has so far set up his side in a way to minimize the goal-scoring opportunities for their opponents. They are a compact side, who are happy to sit back and defend, and will look to make life miserable for the visitors. Playing at home, the onus will be on them to break the Magpies but they will look to stay strong and hit them on the counter, a ploy that will be thrown out of the window if Newcastle strike early. If the Magpies fail to score in the first half, Brighton will surely frustrate them and may even take all three points from this tie.
But more importantly, Rafa has to make sure that his side has what it takes to get over all the challenges thrown at them by Brighton. Though not too much of a creative side, the hosts in this game have what it takes to pile up the pressure on the visitors. If they go into this game with a one-dimensional playing style, the Magpies are surely going to find it difficult to break Brighton down. They need a plan-B or even a plan-C if they are to make sure that they come out of this game with nothing less than three crucial points.