This Saturday sees surely the toughest challenge of the season, at least it is on paper…and money spent, the predicted Newcastle team v Manchester City below.

Who will Rafa Benitez go for?

On Friday afternoon, Rafa confirmed that Ritchie and Shelvey were out injured, but Lascelles is in the squad and available.

Isaac Hayden is suspended, Lejeune still missing through injury, whilst Manquillo is back training but not fit enough to play any part at the Etihad.

In January, Rafa Benitez went with a much changed team, despite having no midweek match before or after the Saturday game at Man City.

The likes of Gayle, Perez, Yedlin and Ritchie were all on the bench, with this being the starting eleven:

Darlow, Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Hayden, Diame, Shelvey, Murphy, Atsu, Joselu

Rafa Benitez hasn’t got a great deal of options but I think he may have the odd surprise selection.

I actually think Hayden would have got a rare start, as like last season I could have seen the manager going for his and Diame’s defensive workrate in the middle of the pitch.

Starting at the back, Dubravka is a no-brainer. Karl Darlow confirming on Wednesday night that there is only one Premier League keeper at NUFC.

This will also be another chance for the three centre-backs to show the system can work, Schar has been poor and I think he will drop out to make way for Jamaal Lascelles. Maybe not ideal for Rafa having two big centre-backs in Lascelles and Fernandez playing, as well as Clark, against a short but mobile Man City forward line – but the former Swansea defender has been one of the few pluses so far.

DeAndre Yedlin will hopefully feel the benefit of a rest on Wednesday night.

Mohamed Diame will be the key player in front of the back five and I think Joselu will be given the thankless task of operating as the isolated lone striker, until Rondon is given the last 20 or so minutes, with hopefully Newcastle still in touch by that point.

This leaves another three players to be selected.

In a game like this it is a little fanciful to suggest players will be in any other position than being extra defenders, Ki Sung-yueng set to go in alongside Mohamed Diame in the middle.

Both Atsu and Murphy were used in this fixture in January and both could well start again. Atsu was once again terrible on Wednesday but a bit like Joselu, the manager may look to see the winger doing a lot of the donkey work before bringing on maybe Perez and/or Muto, as well as Rondon, late on. Murphy has done ok up to a point this season but shown no sign of any kind of end product, certainly nothing similar to the quality goal he scored at the Etihad last season.

Kenedy is having a bit of a nightmare in the last couple of matches and is another who may well be brought on late on if there is still anything to play for.

A difficult team selection for Rafa Benitez but this is how I think they will line up:

newcastle team v manchester city

Man City v Newcastle Match Betting:

Man City win 1/10Draw 10/1Newcastle win 28/1

Rondon to score first goal 17/1NUFC win 1-0 70/17 goals or more in match 17/2

All Man City v Newcastle betting HERE

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  • Looks about right, but I think Benitez will go with a 4-4-1-1 as City would expect a 5-4-1 to catch them off guard. I think Perez and Joselu will start isolated up front with Murphy and Atsu trying to run as much with the ball as possible to link up with them. Ki and Diame will only break up play and look to feed Wingers or go long for the Joss.

  • Kenny

    shocking lack of quality when you look at that team, you have to feel for Rafa & the options open to him.

    • Ram Kishore

      U get shocked quite a lot lol.. we all know the players we have.. Dont get shocked too many times…

      • Ashley-out

        shock is second nature when you follow Newcastle

        • Ram Kishore


  • Scott Robinson

    I’d play Dubravka up front and the other 10 in goal, at least that would be entertaining. Then last ten minutes swap them over, with the ten up front.

  • Paul Busby

    I do appreciate the huge gap thats been placed between midfield and Joselu xD

  • East Durham Mag

    Was expecting a 1-9-1 but I’m not sure what its called.

    • Kenny


      • East Durham Mag

        Oh yeah thats the one. Thanks to Fatty, but if Rafa invites him to training and a match it’ll be great again. Ffs.

    • Ben Jones

      No goalkeeper?

      • East Durham Mag

        1 keeper 9 centre backs 1 striker

  • fistsofsteel2

    Looks ok, but drop Clark and Joselu, and play Rondon and Perez up front. Go 4-4-2

  • panther

    no not atsu

    • Ashley-out

      you could say that about another 5

  • Foggy

    Atsu and Murphy are a waste of space. I’ve come to the conclusion that Atsu is not coachable for whatever reason. He’ll be 27 in January and these should be his peak years. If this is as good as it gets, take him out back and shoot him now.

    • Kenny

      £16m for those 2 add Hoss £5m & the Japanese guy £9m. £30m down the swanee

  • Peaky

    Can we play our 4 keepers between the posts and a bank of 7 just in front ???

    • Kenny

      keep away from your local tomorrow, saves the p1$$ take at around
      7-30pm 😁😁

      • Peaky

        Going nowhere near…..mostly Sheff Utd fans… them hating Fatso now mind you…

        • Kenny

          keep up the good work

    • Kenny

      leazes must be helping George Gently with a case 😂😀😂

      • Peaky

        He’ll be helping Scotland Yard discover the identity of Jack the Ripper…

        • Kenny

          Or the Mad Munk 😃😂

  • Kenny

    That labour MP has upped the ante against the Fat Rat calling for the Government to investigate the relationship between NUFC & Sports Direct & where the money is going to.
    Lovely jubbly

  • Ashley-out

    for a minute i thought Fernandez was in goal, must get to specsavers

  • Ruel Intentions

    I’d rather go with a back 4.


  • 5floorshigh

    Rafa has booked extra coaches for the trip down….so no second guessing where he plans on parking them !