This is the Newcastle team v Chelsea on Sunday to get the season up and running
This is the predicted Newcastle team v Chelsea for Sunday afternoon.
Rafa Benitez has had two games and two weeks of the season to have a look at his players.
The Newcastle boss hampered by both the lack of funds AND the lack of urgency the club showed in bringing in his main targets, especially up front.
However, I think Rafa has to now move away from the familiar and more into what he sees as his best team going forward.
The manager has to make at least one change.
This time Rafa Benitez is without:
Isaac Hayden suspended.
Florian Lejeune injured, whilst no news on how bad Manquillo is after going off at Cardiff, though he is likely to be unavailable as well.
Right-back became a major issue last Saturday, Yedlin’s absence highlighting the total lack of quality cover at full-back on both sides of the pitch.
Manquillo was terrible and Hayden arguably even worse when asked to play out of position in the second half. Luckily Yedlin is back in training and will obviously play if fit enough to do so.
Kenedy had a nightmare as well at Cardiff, nothing going right for him and the only positive being that he didn’t get sent off. Ineligible to play against his parent club, Kenedy can sit back and reflect on getting his head sorted for Man City the following weekend.
As for a replacement, it looks between Atsu and Murphy.
Atsu was shocking when coming on as a sub against Tottenham and dropped from the bench last Saturday.
Jacob Murphy actually did ok against brother Josh when coming on last weekend as 10 man Newcastle actually played alright in the closing stages.
Last season’s 3-0 win over Chelsea saw Jacob Murphy fill in for Kenedy, who was also ineligible for that match, and Murphy did well. He looks an automatic choice for me as well and with plenty of defending likely to be needed, his pace getting up and down the pitch can be an asset.
Much of the team picks itself. If Newcastle had endured a defensive nightmare against Cardiff then I might have suggested Fernandez to come in for Clark. However, they did relatively ok against a very limited Cardiff attack, so worth giving them the opportunity to build on that clean sheet.
The rest of the team pretty much picks itself until you get up front.
The only question being when, not if, Rafa Benitez will play his new signings.
I would play both Rondon and Muto against Chelsea, as if we go with Joselu and Perez once again, I can see it being far too comfortable for the visitors.
I think we need forwards who will give Chelsea something to think about and even against Cardiff, Perez and Joselu gave us nothing.
Rafa’s now had over two weeks to work with Rondon and Muto and now is the time to throw them in. Rondon looked a bit of a handful against Spurs and can hopefully do the same against Chelsea, whilst Muto looked lively when off the bench at Cardiff, winning the penalty that should have given NUFC three points.
The last five meetings at St James Park against Chelsea have seen four wins and a draw for Newcastle, a massive boost if that is five wins and a draw by Sunday night.
This would be my Newcastle team v Chelsea:
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