This is the predicted Newcastle team v Arsenal for Sunday’s match.

On Friday, Rafa Benitez revealed that everybody had been training, with no injuries affecting his team selection.

Islam Slimani had been ruled out the week before but only because Newcastle were playing against ‘his’ club Leicester.

I’m guessing that most of you are only having one discussion inside your heads when it comes to today’s team selection.

Whether Rafa should play Islam Slimani or Dwight Gayle as his main striker.

This would have surely been a ‘which two from three’ debate even a few weeks ago but Ayoze Perez has been so influential in recent games – winner against Huddersfield, winner and an assist against Leicester – that his place looks assured.

The argument for playing Islam Slimani is twofold I think.

Dwight Gayle hasn’t been scoring goals and the loan striker is somebody who could potentially do that. He looked nowhere near fit when coming on against Huddersfield but 15 days later he should be more than ready.

The case for Gayle still playing is twofold as well, in my opinion.

His overall play and movement has still been good (started the move that ended with Shelvey scoring against Leicester) and if you ignore Liverpool, the last five matches have seen the same line-up and have produced four wins and a draw.

Ironically, it should have been five wins from five with that line-up (a more defensive team selection was made for Liverpool) as Gayle scored twice at Bournemouth, only for two goals to be gifted in the final 10 minutes as NUFC dropped off the pace in that game.

My prediction is that Rafa will definitely stick with the same starting 11 that has produced this run of form and results BUT Islam Slimani will get on the pitch at some point.

The dream scenario is Newcastle will go a couple ahead and the loan striker then comes on to play in a team that is dominating the match, Slimani then hopefully showing us what he can do.

An interesting afternoon ahead of us and one thing for sure, is that Newcastle should have their strongest bench of the season, including either Gayle or Slimani.

Last six Rafa team selections:

Leicester v Newcastle – 7 April 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Newcastle v Huddersfield – 31 March 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Newcastle v Southampton – 10 March 2018:

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Newcastle v Liverpool – 3 March 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Murphy, Merino, Diame, Kenedy, Atsu, Gayle

Newcastle v Bournemouth – 24 February 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

Newcastle v Man Utd – 11 February 2018

Dubravka, Yedlin, Lascelles, Lejeune, Dummett, Ritchie, Shelvey, Diame, Kenedy, Perez, Gayle

The predicted Newcastle team v Arsenal:

newcastle team v huddersfield

Newcastle v Arsenal Match Betting with BetVictor:

Newcastle win 9/4 – Draw 13/5 – Arsenal win 5/4

Perez to score first goal 9/1 – NUFC win 1-0 12/1 – Slimani to score in both halves 33/1


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