Predicted Newcastle team v Fulham today
Saturday afternoon sees a perfect opportunity for Rafa and his players to really put some distance between themselves and those at the bottom, the predicted Newcastle team v Fulham below.
Who will Rafa Benitez go for?
Rafa has made clear that Lejeune isn’t going to be risked yet, whilst Shelvey, Darlow and Clark are all missing through injury.
In better news, the manager says Federico Fernandez is available once again, whilst Yedlin is back after a one match suspension.
I think today is actually one of the most interesting team selections so far, in terms of seeing what Rafa Benitez chooses to do.
The big question is whether he will go with the three/five at the back once again.
It has worked really well away from home, victories at Burnley and Huddersfield being proof of that, yet Wolves at home it didn’t look good at all.
If he did go with the three centre-backs today, then with the injuries, it would automatically mean Lascelles, Fernandez and Schar all playing, unless of course he pulled a major surprise and used Dummett instead, so he had a left footer amongst them.
The thing is, all three deserve to be in the team but is there room for them, can Rafa use this three/five at the back at St James Park.
It is a fact that our squad is totally unbalance with far better quality strength in depth at centre-back than in the creative/attacking areas.
The manager also has the problem if playing the three, of the fact that he sees Fernandez as ideal for the central role, which then means Lascelles has to play on the right and ends up seeing far too much of the ball. Distribution and carrying the ball are definitely not his best assets, which we all saw against Wolves.
On the other hand, Fabian Schar does do that pretty/very well.
I see the Swiss international as the unlucky odd man out today, as I think Rafa will revert to a back four and go with Fernandez and Lascelles to counter the physical presence of Mitrovic. Mitro has scored seven and got two assists in Fulham’s 16 goal total, so it’s obvious he is the biggest threat.
Whilst Manquillo was a little bit better than usual defensively against Huddersfield and did well for the goal, surely it is a no-brainer that Rafa will bring Yedlin back in after his enforced rest last weekend.
The same on the other side, on the bench the last two games, Paul Dummett will surely now return as well as he reaches full fitness once again after injury, Kenedy hates defending and with Clark injured there is no other left footed alternative.
Shelvey’s absence ensures Diame and Ki will stay in, despite their form dipping a bit in the last couple of matches.
Whilst I expect the manager to revert back to Kenedy and Ritchie on the wings for this home game, Atsu has been a little better recently but for this must win game I think it will be a reliance on those he sees as first choice when they play anywhere near their best.
As to who partners Salomon Rondon, we once again wonder if this will be the time when a struggling Ayoze Perez is left out and Muto given a go now he is back from injury and waiting for is chance.
I marginally think Perez will stay in but he needs to step it up to keep his place going forward. He was good on the goal last weekend and produced an excellent finish of his own that was wrongly disallowed but we need a lot more than odd moments such as those in an entire game, especially at home against the bottom club.
This being my predicted Newcastle team v Fulham:
A team that will hopefully get Newcastle a fifth win in eight games ahead of a tough looking post-Xmas schedule.
Newcastle v Fulham Match Betting:
All Newcastle v Fulham betting HERE
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