This is the predicted Newcastle team v West Ham and formation.
Rafa Benitez held his press conference on Friday lunchtime and gave us an update on who is available.
Jonjo Shelvey competes his two match suspension today, whilst the United boss revealed Jesus Gamez had undergone an ankle operation.
Rafa also stated that Aleksandar Mitrovic still had his ‘small back problem’ and would miss at least the next 10 days, taking him into January and the transfer window…
The manager will have been pretty happy with how he laid his team out last weekend, with Jamaal Lascelles helping to keep the defence relatively tight and restrict Arsenal to not too many chances, all that was missing was for his players to take one of the three or four half decent chances that presented themselves in the closing stages.
I see Rafa keeping quite close to his formation at the Emirates but to change a number of players.
Rob Elliot has done ok since returning so you can’t anticipate any change there but I do think two of the back four could change.
Paul Dummett has had another week of training and must be close to being brought back in, whilst I believe Ciaran Clark may well come in for Florian Lejeune who still hasn’t convinced, even though only two goals conceded in the past two matches since Lascelles came back.
With Shelvey absent, Merino and Hayden seem to pick themselves, whilst Christian Atsu should hopefully show a bit more today going forward, after having to mainly play in his own half last weekend.
Against Arsenal, Rafa rested Matt Ritchie who had started every other Premier League match and having looked jaded recently, it seemed to do wonders for him. The winger coming off the bench and looking far better, his excellent cross should have seen Ayoze Perez score in those closing stages.
West Ham are likely to once again set up very similar to Newcastle with the aim of keeping it tight and finding the first goal.
So I can’t see Rafa returning to playing both Joselu and Gayle up front.
With that in mind, whilst Perez’ finishing was terrible at Arsenal, I think he will keep his place and be expected to help keep it tight by tracking back.
After playing two games in four days, it looked like Rafa Benitez was protecting Dwight Gayle from potential injury against the Gunners, with four of the next five games being against teams near the bottom.
Joselu actually didn’t do too bad last Saturday but Dwight Gayle surely has to be on the pitch today and his pace could prove the difference, especially if the likes of 34 year old James Collins is once again at centre-back.
The predicted Newcastle team v West Ham:
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