Why Elliot Anderson now has a genuine chance of starting PL opener vs Aston Villa

2 minute read

With just three friendlies left to play, Eddie Howe will soon turn his attention towards Newcastle United’s opening game of the season against Aston Villa.

It is a tough opener for Newcastle, who will be desperate to start the new campaign well after a magical 2022/23 season.

Howe will no doubt have an idea in his head of what he will want his team to look like on the opening day, and he will have some tough decision to make between now and August 12th.

One of his dilemmas is midfield, despite boasting plenty of options. Bruno Guimaraes is pretty much certain to start, and it is difficult to imagine him not being joined by his fellow Brazilian Joelinton.

That leaves one place up for grabs, and there is a very real chance that it could go to academy graduate Elliot Anderson.

Rangers v Newcastle United - Pre-Season Friendly

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Why Elliot Anderson could start when Newcastle face Aston Villa in two weeks

Assuming Bruno and Joelinton start, the other place in midfield will either go to Anderson, Sandro Tonali, Sean Longstaff or Joe Willock. 17-year-old Lewis Miley is also an option, although starting him would be a real shock despite his emergence.

On paper, you would imagine that Anderson is the least likely to start out of the four senior players. However, pre-season would indicate that he is perhaps the most likely.

He has featured the most, and looks to be one of the sharpest members of Howe’s squad. The 20-year-old has been outstanding, with Kieran Trippier hailing him for his ‘brilliant’ performances.

Anderson has been pivotal at times, and already has five goal contributions from three appearances.

Aston Villa v Newcastle United: Premier League Summer Series

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In contrast, his midfield competitors are less match-ready.

While Tonali has got plenty of minutes in his legs, it does look like he will need a bedding in period as he gets used to English football. With that in mind, Howe might consider it a risk to start him in the season opener against Villa.

Then you have got Sean Longstaff and Joe Willock, who are recovering from injury. Longstaff hasn’t played a major role in pre-season, while we are yet to see Willock feature at all. They are running out of time to prove that they are 100% ready for the big kick off.

So with Anderson getting plenty of minutes and using them to great effect, it feels like he currently has a genuine chance of starting on August 12th. It would be an incredible opportunity for the local lad, and one he richly deserves.