This Saturday sees another big opportunity for Rafa and his players, the predicted Newcastle team v West Ham below.

Who will Rafa Benitez go for?

For some people, they cling to the idea of always sticking with a winning team.

However, Rafa Benitez has often shown in the past that he will do whatever he thinks is right, no matter what the result in the previous match.

At his press conference on Friday, the manager indicated that Jonjo Shelvey, Karl Darlow, Yoshinori Muto and Jamaal Lascelles are all available now.

Paul Dummett the only player definitely not involved, though even he is now apparently nearing a return.

Both Florian Lejeune and Jamie Sterry have now completed at least one full training session the NUFC boss stated, though surely no chance of either of these longer term injured going straight into the starting eleven.

An interesting selection awaits then, though I don’t see Rafa Benitez changing the personnel too much after the win at Burnley.

Rafa played with three centre-backs at Burnley, Fernandez, Schar and Clark, to help deal with their two big strikers. It worked really well, apart form the consolation goal by Vokes.

I can see all three staying in the team but with a different threat posed by West Ham with the likes of Arnautovic, I think he will revert to a back four.

Lascelles wouldn’t be a massive surprise if selected but I just can’t see either Schar or Fernandez (especially) being left out, so I think they will play in the middle. Whilst in the absence of a natural replacement for Dummett, at least  until the transfer window, I don’t think Manquillo gives a better option than Clark.

The Republic of Ireland international isn’t a natural full-back but he is left footed, a decent defender and can pass the ball better than Manquillo. The Spaniard is maybe more mobile but I can’t see that being enough to get him in the team.

Kenedy and Ritchie both had decent games at Burnley and nobody putting any pressure on their places either.

In the middle it is more interesting, as Shelvey must be approaching full fitness after being named on Monday’s bench. If he was to come back into the team then you’d assume Rafa would see him as an alternative to Ki – but the South Korean was arguably Newcastle’s best player on Monday (and against Bournemouth), so I fancy Shelvey to stay on the bench.

Salomon Rondon will obviously stay in the team, which leaves one position to fill.

A lot of speculation that Newcastle will bring in Miguel Almiron to fill that number 10 spot in January but until then we wait and see what Rafa does in the meantime.

Ayoze Perez was once again Newcastle’s weakest player against Burnley and with Muto now available, I can see Rafa bringing him back in to add some pace up front.

Not an easy team selection for Rafa Benitez as finally he has a number of positive decisions/choices to make:

newcastle team v west hamA team that will hopefully deliver a fourth win in a row.

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  • Kenny

    not a bad line up but i think Rafa will start the same 11 as the last match.
    Muto, Shelvey and Lascelles on the bench, not bad if we run into trouble.
    Monk will be in his seat by 11am,

    • Toontaff

      11.11, commemorating 11 years of his hero…………………..

      • Toontaff

        ……not forgetting he has 11 seats!

        • Big Al 1967

          And 11 million loyalty points!!

          • Peaky

            And 11 fingers and toes…

    • Leazes.

      You believe he exists…… there’s one born every minute….. its a mackem troll…. jeez you are so gullible

      • Kenny

        I thought he was a Mancurian.

        • Toontaff

          The conspiracy theorists will be hard at work………….

          • Kenny

            as always,

  • Paul Patterson

    Wrong. Lascelles will start for either of the centre backs and Perez will start for Muto. That is unless he springs a surprise and goes 5-3-2. Either way Muto won’t start . .

  • DeadToiler

    I don’t think Perez was the weakest player. Rondon done very little and Ritchie didn’t have a great game. He done an excellent through ball for Joselu who was unlucky to not score. I don’t agree with his play acting though.

    • Vodkamagpie

      Rondon holds up the ball 75% of the time. Joselu holds up the ball 25% of the time. It is vital to keep the ball, please watch rondon, count how many times he loses possession, and do the same when joselu comes on.

    • Kev Newcastle England

      I call Perez WAP….Weak As Pi*s.Coz thats what he is,generally.

  • Mark Davies

    Completely irrelevant but its a pre match friday, so….. he makes me sing and he makes me dance he a fukin superstar amd he comes from france ginola lalalaala ginola haha

    • Peaky

      Never a wrong time to sing that Mark…

  • Philippines

    OK for me as I sit by the sea in the Philippines with blue sky above.