There are three changes in this Newcastle team v Swansea below.

Rafa Benitez has shown in his 18 months at St James Park that he is always willing to make brave decisions when it comes to team selection, I think he will do the same on Sunday.

Some believe in not changing a winning team but Rafa showed regularly last season in the Championship that he was very much up for doing that.

One change is enforced anyway, with Paco (standing in for Rafa) confirming at Friday’s press conference that Chancel Mbemba would be missing due to his injury picked up on international duty.

He also indicated that as well as Shelvey now free from suspension – Gayle, Yedlin and Lejeune are all possibilities to come back into the team after injury.

Against West Ham, Newcastle lined up in the usual 4-2-3-1/4-4-1-1, with Elliot, Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba, Ritchie, Merino, Hayden, Atsu, Perez, Joselu.

A number of options now present at the back and I can see Rafa Benitez reverting to what was basically his first choice defence on the opening day – apart from Paul Dummett still injured.

So assuming they are ready to play, I think Rafa will bring both Yedlin and Lejeune back in, with Manquillo shifting to left-back where he has played previously. Clark and Lejeune looked good together in pre-season and whilst they were both on the pitch against Spurs, so Lascelles could drop to the bench.

I think most of the rest of the team is easy to predict, with Elliot staying in goal and the midfield/wingers staying in place.

However, I don’t think Dwight Gayle will be thrown straight back in, he will be handy as an impact sub and Joselu put in a decent all-round game against West Ham and scored, so he must surely start tomorrow.

The big decision and the big problem position for Newcastle in the last 13 months or so, is the number 10 spot.

Ayoze Perez offers so little that I think it is a no-brainer that Rafa could give Shelvey a try there in a free position where he can hopefully pull the strings further up the pitch.

Mikel Merino has added extra quality in the middle of the pitch and he is well capable of threading balls through to Shelvey in advanced positions.

So this is my predicted Newcastle team v Swansea:

Rob Elliott

DeAndre Yedlin

Florian Lejeune

Ciaran Clark

Javier Manquillo

Matt Ritchie

Mikel Merino

Isaac Hayden

Christian Atsu

Jonjo Shelvey


Swansea v Newcastle Match Betting:

All Swansea v Newcastle betting HERE

Newcastle win 23/10Joselu to score first goal 15/2NUFC to win 2-0 15/1 Shelvey first player to get a card 8/1

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(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

  • fistsofsteel2

    Totally disagree with the assessment of Perez. He has been excellent recently. Shelvey couldn’t tie Perez’s bootlaces.

    • Geordiegiants

      Perez looked like he would be excellent when he first came, but since then, he has been very average in my opinion, and very slow.

  • Vodkamagpie

    My team would be a 352, woodman, lascelles, lejeune, clark, Ritchie, atsu, hayden, merino, shelvey, perez, joselu. Subs, elliott, manquillo, yedlin, diame, saivet, Murphy, gayle. We should play to our strengths, got 4 decent cbs, plus dummett when back, and 3 quality cms, Ritchie and atsu clan play as wing backs, with yedlin and arrons as back up. Always play 2 up top, perez joselu, gayle mitrovic as back up

  • Andy Mac

    I read the Independent article in which Merino claimed he preferred the No 6 slot or DM as we know it ? So does that give room for JJ as well in a midfield two ? Although that might be OK on paper I dont think it would be ideal at Swansea knowing how much stick Shelvey will get.

    The key position, as the writer mentions, is that secondary striker/No 10 role which needs to be filled by a classy individual like Mata, Eriksen or Sigurdsson. So Diame it is then ? 🤔

  • Geordiegiants

    That would be a very good choice of team in my opinion.

  • Mal

    I wouldn’t argue with the 11 players you suggest but Rafa will no doubt come up with something different. On the question of Shelvey I have to say I don’t see him as a number 10; he’s more effective playing further back in my opinion and Merino looks more number 10 material to me. For what it’s worth I wouldn’t be surprised if Shelvey is on the bench anyway.

  • Wor Lass

    I don`t think that`s a bad line-up but I would prefer Clark at LB and Lascelles at CB with Lejeune. I also suspect that Rafa might want SloMo in there for defensive duties with Shelvey on the bench. A lot depends, of course, on just how fit the “returnees” are. We could set up like Huddersfield away last season with SloMo and Ritchie our first line of defence and looking to catch them on the break.