Here is the Newcastle team v Leicester that can get Rafa Benitez off to the best of all possible starts.
The new manager’s opening pre-match press conference was full of interest but short on definitive news on which players will and won’t be available.
The likes of Krul, Obertan and Haidara are definitely ruled out, whilst it appeared clear that Fabricio Coloccini won’t be ready either for tonight’s match. The Newcastle Captain was seen at Rafa’s first training session but only as a spectator on the sidelines when the players were put through their paces.
Cheick Tiote looks another who won’t be involved, whilst no news either way on Papiss Cisse, though even if he was available it would be hard to see him getting anywhere near a start.
Three players who do though have a chance of playing against Leicester according to a number of press reports, are Chancel Mbemba, Andros Townsend and Kevin Mbabu.
If able to do themselves justice then I think all three should definitely start.
The back four was possibly at its worst ever (which takes some doing!) against Bournemouth and to have Mbemba back to help deal with Vardy and co would be massive. Arguably it is a toss of the coin between the equally failing Lascelles and Taylor but I think despite his weaknesses, you have to go for the experience of the latter.
Riyad Mahrez looks the Premier League player of the season beyond doubt, in my opinion. I wouldn’t have fancied Dummett up against him and a makeshift Jack Colback or Vurnon Anita could get a roasting, neither having anything like the pace or ability necessary to deal with him.
Despite only two Premier League starts, Mbabu showed more than enough to look the best option tonight, having played the champions of the last two seasons in that pair of matches.
Townsend’s return would give Newcastle balance and hopefully a threat on the left, whilst surely Perez will get a chance as his countryman picks his first Newcastle team.
With hopefully any nonsense of including Gouffran or Riviere now in the past, pairing Perez with Mitrovic up front must be Newcastle’s best chance of producing goals and a positive result.
No doubt many are wondering whether Rafa Benitez will use two more withdrawn midfielders as he did often at Liverpool but surely the gamble has to be continuing with Wijnaldum, as other options of who could play alongside Shelvey such as Colback, Anita and Saivet hardly inspire.
Perez would need to drop back when Leicester are in possession but I see a more attacking team as Newcastle’s best chance in, hopefully, this dawning of a new era.
If any of the players aren’t buzzing tonight and pressing the opposition in a high tempo performance, then they really aren’t worth persevering with.
My Newcastle team v Leicester:
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Leicester v Newcastle Match Betting:
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