This is the predicted Newcastle team v Stoke and formation.
A crucial game coming only 48 hours after the drab goalless draw with Brighton.
Lejeune, Mitrovic, Gamez and Elliot are all set to miss through injury again, whilst it is an unknown whether anybody else has picked up a knock on Saturday.
I’m not predicting a goalfest but I can’t see any way this is going to be a game without goals.
Nobody has conceded more goals than the 44 Stoke City have done, with not a clean sheet at home since their opening fixture at the bet365 stadium.
Whilst Newcastle have failed to score in five of their last six home matches, they have scored in four of their last five away games, scoring seven goals in total.
I think Rafa Benitez will go for a solid typical shape but with the capacity to counter-attack quickly.
Joselu looked knackered on Saturday, having worked tirelessly in the Man City and Brighton matches, I think it will be an easy decision for Rafa to drop him to the bench, especially with the emphasis set to be hitting Stoke on the break.
So I have gone for Dwight Gayle as the lone striker and I think it will be a toss up between Diame and Perez to play in behind, with for me Diame getting the nod after doing ok against West Ham in that last away match.
Matt Ritchie had a frustrating day on Saturday and Christian Atsu wasn’t at his best either but I think both will play today. They are our best wide players and both looked far better at West Ham as they had space to play in and more of a chance to get forward, so lets hope it produces the same result.
Centre of midfield has seen Jonjo Shelvey sidelined recently, although he was one of the many changes Rafa made for the Man City game as he rested a number of players. One of those was Mikel Merino but he looked just as knackered as Joselu on Saturday and I can’t see him starting today.
Shelvey looked up for it when coming on as a sub against Brighton and personally, I think he is nailed on to start, hopefully determined to show the manager he deserves his place. Isaac Hayden was barely involved against Brighton but his energy will be needed against Stoke, to hopefully allow the likes of Atsu, Gayle and Shelvey to produce going forward.
Darlow did little wrong and kept a clean sheet in a quiet game against Brighton, so even if Elliot is passed fit you can’t imagine Rafa Benitez changing.
The back four – a clean sheet was a solid foundation against Chris Hughton’s team and the only change I anticipate is Manquillo coming in for Paul Dummett, as I can’t see the Geordie full-back playing two games in such quick succession after some four months out.
The predicted Newcastle team v Stoke:
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