This is the formation and Newcastle team v West Brom which I believe is destined to take the pitch tonight.

A win for Newcastle takes them six points clear of West Brom who are currently fourth bottom, as well as within three points of Rafa’s halfway target total with five games to spare.

Conversely, a win for the home team puts them level on points with Newcastle and if they win by two or more, they go above NUFC.

To me it is a no-brainer that in those circumstances and especially after four defeats in a row, that Rafa will be simply focused on ensuring Newcastle do not get beat and return to Tyneside with at least a point.

As it happens, circumstances may have come together to allow him to put more or less his ideal team out to do just that.

Whilst Jamaal Lascelles will still be missing, two players are set to return to the team.

It is sure to be a very ‘competitive’ game in the middle of the pitch and I think Rafa will make sure he has the numbers in there to have as much control as possible.

Mikel Merino was only able to start from the bench against Watford but after that sub appearance and a few more days training he should be able to start at the Hawthorns.

Isaac Hayden was absent due to five bookings and a one match ban and his energy was missed against Watford, he will also surely come in.

To accommodate that, I think Rafa Benitez will play Jonjo Shelvey as well in the middle but forget about playing two up front or a second striker, instead relying on Dwight Gayle to do the lone role and hope to get the odd chance when Gayle can use his pace behind the Baggies defence.

Switching back to one up front and having three central midfielders, will then allow the likes of Matt Ritchie to do a better job of working with Yedlin on the right, rather than leaving him isolated as happened on Saturday.

Rob Elliot and his back four haven’t done themselves any favours in the last two games but difficult to see any changes due to the lack of options, unless Rafa chose to give Jesus Gamez a game in either of the full-back positions.

My predicted Newcastle team v West Brom:

newcastle team v west brom

West Brom v Newcastle Match Betting:

West Brom win 7/5Draw 85/40Newcastle win 5/2

NUFC win 2-1 12/1Gayle to score first goal 13/2NUFC lead at HT and FT 5/1

All West Brom v Newcastle betting HERE

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  • mentalman

    we don’t have the players with the passing ability (apart from shelvey) to play Gayle up front on his own.

    If it was me i’d try a 3/5/2 formation, this will allow yedlin and manquillo to push up and provide the width and shelvey can drop deep like he likes to and allow merino and hayden to control the midfield.

    This would of course mean that mbemba would need to play and ritchie would be dropped so it will never happen

    • Rich

      Why play Manquillo as a wing back? If he had a left foot yes but as he hasn’t he would add no width and simply narrow play down whenever he received the ball as he constantly turns back onto his right

      • Paul Patterson

        Haidara could work . .

        • S.G.M.

          yeh, in a chip shop

  • HTL

    I think you could be right with the team
    Shelvey likes to play too deep to be played as a No 10. at times on Saturday I thought he was a 3rd central defender, perhaps Merino as the furthest forward of the midfield three. with that team IMHO it looks more like/suited to a 4-5-1 which after the last 3 games might not be a bad thing?

  • Leazes Ender

    Is it a Jet….. is it a plane… nah…. its a bus!

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    Mbemba should be at left back the other guys useless

    • 1957

      He might be useless but Benitez signed him…

      • MichaelMaximusMoose

        Rafa has signed a few Duck Eggs

        • 1957

          You can see it, along with most on here, but as I was told earlier today in other conversations Benitez knows more about football than we do and we should just go along with what he does and our criticism only undermines the said duck eggs confidence, so I suppose its really my fault Hoss can’t score and SloMo is…

  • S.G.M.

    Different keeper, different striker. Megson will think its a bus game, but I doubt it will be.

  • 1957

    SloMo will be in there somewhere…Benitez will tell us he has trained really well this week 😕

  • 5floorshigh

    what ?…….No Hoss……somebody is dreaming !

  • Tino o

    Joselu will play he as well as said it yesterday. More pain expected

  • fistsofsteel2

    No Mitro and no Perez. Lejeune, Manquillo, and Yedlin in defence.

    Another defeat looms.