Five changes Newcastle must make against Huddersfield

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez speaks to players

Newcastle's second game of the Championship season is at home to Huddersfield Town.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez speaks to players

After a disappointing start away to Fulham, Newcastle's first home game of the season sees Huddersfield Town arrive at St James' Park, who won their first game 2-1 against Brentford.

Rafael Benitez's side fell to a 1-0 defeat in the opening game of the new Football League season, with Matt Smith's first half header being the difference between the sides.

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

Newcastle went into the game as favourites but failed to live up to the pre-season hype, creating very little to threaten the Fulham goal, with a turned-down penalty shout the closest they came to taking anything away from Craven Cottage.

With new signings such as Ciaran Clark and Mohamed Diame at the manager's disposal, plus a poor showing from some of his more trusted players, Benitez could be tempted to make wholesale changes as he prepares his side to play in front of a sold out St James' Park. We look at five changes Benitez should make for Newcastle's game against Huddersfield.

Bring in Diame

Mohamed Diame celebrates scoring the first goal for Hull City

It was too early for Newcastle fans to see Diame make his debut on Friday, but the former Hull man should be ready to make his first appearance on Saturday.

The combination of Jack Colback and Isaac Hayden was too negative, despite 21-year-old Hayden starring in a poor performance. Colback on the other hand was less than inspiring, and should come under threat from Diame.

The Senegalese midfielder is a powerhouse and can help the Magpies win the midfield battle, as well as drive them up the pitch in the same way that Moussa Sissoko could.

Inject some pace

Rolando Aarons celebrates scoring the fourth goal for Newcastle United

One of Newcastle's biggest problems against Fulham was that they were too cautious, with zero attacking intent from centre midfield, and another central player playing out of position on the right wing.

Newcastle have pace at their disposal, and they will need to use it if they are to turn their fortunes around against Huddersfield.

Rolando Aarons came off the bench at Craven Cottage, and should be in contention to start on Saturday. With Aarons on the left and Matt Ritchie on the right, Newcastle will have two out-and-out wingers who can hurt the Terriers defence and supply the ammunition for Newcastle's forwards.

Add some much needed creativity

Newcastle's Jonjo Shelvey shoots

Jonjo Shelvey has had a difficult start to his Newcastle career, especially since the arrival of Benitez.

Despite not being a preferred starter by the former Liverpool and Real Madrid boss, Shelvey's vision and forward passing is what Newcastle missed on Friday.

Too often, passes were going either backwards or sideways, not penetrating the Fulham defence. Things did change slightly when the England international was introduced, and he could have an even bigger impact if he is used from the off.

Bring back Mbemba

Newcastle's Chancel Mbemba in action

Newcastle's two centre backs, Jamaal Lascelles and Grant Hanley, saw a lot of the ball against Fulham, but were unable to use it well enough and bring the ball out of defence.

One man that can do that is Chancel Mbemba. Kept on the bench after an injury problem, the 22-year-old ball-playing defender should be brought into the starting eleven in place of Hanley, who despite a solid enough debut, is not as impressive in possession as Mbemba.

Without Mitrovic as a target man, Newcastle will need to pass their way out of defence, rather than lump long balls up to Dwight Gayle, and the Congolese man is the best candidate for that job.

Change the shape

Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez

Four-four-two proved to be unsuccessful, with Ayoze Perez and Gayle failing to link up and create a partnership. Benitez has always wanted a balanced team throughout his career, and a four-three-three formation could give him this.

A front three of Gayle flanked by Aarons and Ritchie have enough pace and craft to hurt any Championship defence, but they need to be supplied possession from a more forward thinking midfield.

With Hayden sitting in front of and protecting the defence, this will allow Diame to drive on and support Gayle, whilst giving Shelvey the freedom to spray the ball forward and put Newcastle on the front foot. 

There is no reason for Newcastle to panic just yet, but Rafa Benitez needs to address some big issues before their game on Saturday against Huddersfield.

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