This is the predicted Newcastle team v Manchester City and formation.
Rafa Benitez has confirmed that both Jesus Gamez and Aleksandar Mitrovic won’t play any part today, whilst he has also indicated that Florian Lejeune will almost certainly be missing as well.
Jonjo Shelvey is back available after his two game suspension and after Merino and Hayden missed West Ham with knocks, the United boss said that the pair of them had a ‘chance’ of being available today.
Always a dilemma at this stage of the season, with West Ham being the start of four games separated by only nine days, Newcastle now having three matches between Wednesday night and Monday afternoon.
It is a massive risk if you ask key players, especially in attacking/midfield positions to play all three of these matches, so what will Rafa Benitez do?
Well, it is a bit unfortunate that the first of these three games is against all conquering Manchester City who have won 17 PL games in a row on their way to be crowned champions probably sometime in February or March.
If it was either Brighton or Stoke that Newcastle were playing tonight then it would be a simple case of playing the very best team and going for the three points. It is not a case of Rafa throwing tonight’s match but an acceptance that he can do everything right and Newcastle would stand every chance of still being stuffed.
The reality anyway is that with Newcastle doing most of the defending tonight, then it lends itself to a hard working team who will try to contain the opposition, and make the most of the odd chance that comes their way.
Just as he did at the Emirates, I think Rafa will go with Joselu and Perez up front and supporting striker/extra midfielder.
Newcastle will find it difficult to play it out from the back against a Manchester City team that presses so high, so I’d be amazed if Joselu wasn’t selected for NUFC to hit it long and try to build from there much of the time.
Perez will naturally spend most of his time as an extra midfielder to try and stifle the visitors as much as possible.
I can see Jacob Murphy definitely playing and it is just a case of which wing, his youthful energy giving either Ritchie or Atsu a rest ahead of the two vital games in 48 hours. Murphy showed against both Chelsea and Man Utd he wasn’t overawed so no reason why he can’t do a job tonight.
Jonjo Shelvey will surely start after being suspended and with his quality of passing there is always a chance he can create. No reason to rush either Merino or Hayden back if they aren’t 100%, so Diame would seem a natural choice after doing a decent job at West Ham in the middle of the pitch.
At the back, it wouldn’t be a total surprise to see Lascelles kept for the weekend but on balance I think Rafa will keep him in, as the captain gives the team far more chance of organising and keeping things tight at the back. Mbemba is always a possibility to come back into the defence but I can see Benitez staying with the Clark/Lascelles combination.
A great penalty save from Elliot on Saturday but a bit of a nervy display overall when he didn’t really help his defence at times, failing to take command and come for the ball. However, Darlow wasted his chance and no reason to believe that anything will change on the goalkeeper front, at least not until the transfer window…
Dummett must be itching for his chance and I fancy he will get that tonight but with Manquillo switching to the right rather than left out.
Yedlin showed once again on Saturday how devastating his pace can be on the attack and I think both he and Gayle will be saved for Brighton and Stoke, with also the possibility of them being introduced late on against Man City if scores are level or only one down for Newcastle. Their pace/combination on the counter attack is always a possibility to create something.
The predicted Newcastle team v Manchester City:
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