Lascelles says that the team is still adapting to Benitez’s new formation
Newcastle have turned their fortunes around with a series of positive results in the last couple of months after a calamitous start to the season. The Magpies were languishing rock-bottom of the Premier League standings in the initial stages of the season but they have now given themselves a realistic chance of avoiding the drop.
Rafael Benitez has changed things up tactically to add more spice to his line-up, switching from a 4-4-1-1 to a back three system involving three centre-backs and two wing-backs.
Ahead of their Boxing Day clash against Liverpool, Newcastle captain Jamaal Lascelles admits the last few weeks getting used to the new system have been ‘challenging’.
“It is something that can be challenging for a player. We work on it in training and we are not really used to it yet,” Lascelles said of Newcastle’s new system.
“For three seasons here with the manager, we have pretty much always been playing with four at the back, unless we played teams like Manchester City away.
“But the boys are adapting. The more we work on it, the better we will get. We have not done it that much. But people have stepped in and done well.
“We have got a lot of strength in depth at the back, so we have players who can play there, and people who are hungry to impress.”
Liverpool will be a challenge, however, Rafa is likely to continue with three centre-backs, though it’s likely Newcastle will use a flat back five.
Lascelles believes due to Liverpool’s open style of play, they will have more chances than they did against Fulham. “Teams lower down the table are much harder to break down because they are putting bodies behind the ball”, he said.
“We have to work out how we can beat the block and get more goals at home during the second half of the season.”