The eleven who lined up 12 days ago were ; Tim Krul, Danny Simpson, Mike Williamson, Fabricio Coloccini, Davide Santon, Yohan Cabaye, James Perch, Jonas Gutierrez, Hatem Ben Arfa, Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba.
With Cheick Tiote expected to be available again then we’d expect him to slot into the middle instead of Perch, the utility player substituted at half-time in that game having been found out a bit in a role that demands more than just being an extra defender.
I’m guessing this is the team that most of you would anticipate as well but Alan Pardew has shown he’s not scared to make decisions that might go against fan expectations.
Demba Ba would clearly like to be back amongst the goals and didn’t look a happy man when substituted in that last home match but that game apart he’s continued to be outstanding in all other aspects of his game and it would be a shock to see him missing today.
Maybe some would make a case for Ryan Taylor or James Perch at left-back but I think Santon is really coming on and adding defensive discipline to his undoubted talent on the ball.
Other variations exist such as Jonas at left-back which Pardew pulled out of his hat recently but I can’t see that repeated.
The Argentinian winger/midfielder/full-back has got a crucial role today but that is in a high energy midfield three with Cabaye and Tiote, a trio that can build a platform for the strikers to do the business.