After  a decent performance and confidence steadying result at Watford, this is the predicted Newcastle United team v Manchester United below.

After a perfect 100% record in November, the Manager of the Month curse struck.

Seven games in December bringing only one win and six point from a possible 21.

With six changes to his team that took on Liverpool and then a further three for the game at Watford, Rafa Benitez has shown a willingness to use his squad over the festive period.

I expect this to continue against Man Utd on Wednesday night.

Rafa has already said that Florian Lejeune is being aimed at the Blackburn FA Cup match, so with Ki Sung-yeung at the Asian Cup, and injury doubts over Ciaran Clark, Karl Darlow and Federico Fernandez, the NUFC boss already has his options, particularly at the back, limited to an extent.

Dubravka will obviously continue at the back and I can see Rafa returning to a back four, in large part due to the players who are set to be unavailable, but also because I think it will suit against this opposition.

Dummett and Yedlin will surely line up at full-back after both doing decent jobs at Watford and there being no real alternatives, whilst Lascelles and Schar are the two centre-backs who are definitely available and both also did ok at Vicarage Road.

Moving forward in the line-up, it gets more interesting.

Jonjo Shelvey is surely now primed to start, he may have failed to pick up his man for the Watford equaliser but with Ki away, Shelvey will come in alongside Mohamed Diame. The pair did well both in February’s win and October’s  unlucky defeat, to Man Utd, and they will be reunited for this one. Hayden did ok up to a point against Watford but in no way, shape, or form, is he an ideal partner for Diame in the middle.

Matt Ritchie has done well the last couple of games on the left, a pearler of a cross that Joselu somehow missed at Anfield at 0-0, then another class delivery that Rondon buried at Watford. However, I can see him reverting to his more usual preferred position on the right for this one.

Kenedy was totally left out of the squad for Watford but Rafa Benitez has shown in the past that he isn’t scared to make big positions which fans might not choose themselves and which surprise neutrals.

I think the Brazilian will return in his best position as a left winger and hopefully will spark back to something near his best. Like Diame and Shelvey, Kenedy also performed very well in the two Man Utd matches in 2018, so Rafa going with horses for courses to an extent.

Salomon Rondon will be the main striker before no doubt being rested in the FA Cup match – but who will play as main support?

Despite the decent team display at Watford, Ayoze Perez was anonymous and offered zero threat. Yoshinori Muto has been able to be kept up to and including this Man Utd match thanks to the agreement of the Japan national team ahead of the Asian Cup, and I think he will start this one.

He had probably his best game so far for Newcastle at Old Trafford and a bit of pace will hopefully help against Jones and Lindelof who aren’t the most mobile.

If you take away the front two, the more observant amongst you may have noticed that eight of the other nine in my predicted Newcastle United team v Manchester United, also started in the 1-0 win in February. The only difference being Schar instead of Lejeune, as well as Muto and Rondon rather than Gayle and Perez.

Here’s hoping whatever Newcastle team that plays, has a real go at Man Utd, the visitors having  leaked more goals than all clubs outside the bottom five, apart from Bournemouth.

This being my predicted Newcastle United team v Manchester United:


newcastle united team v manchester united

A team that will hopefully see Rafa Benitez kick off 2019 in the very best way possible.

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  • Paul Patterson

    No Perez?

    That team will be wrong then . .

  • Albert Stubbins

    I’d love to see muto start but it’ll never happen. The hapless Perez is a shoe in.

  • glassjawsh-got-banned

    Still waiting for Murphy to get a fair shake

    • Geordiegiants

      He was the best of the two brothers and the other is playing very well.

      • mentalman

        A lot of norwich fans said at the time they had kept the better of the two although this may have been sour grapes.

        They are very similar players but our murphy isn’t getting a chance to improve his game

  • Kenny

    A bus would have to knock Perez over for him not to start.
    then reverse over him.
    I don`t think he`ll drop Atsu either

    • Peaky

      I went to my first game In 1974,saw Supermac,still for me the greatest centre forward Newcastle ever had,it was all about dreams and moving on for me at that time,I went through alll the ups and downs for many years,still do Shearer,Beardsley etc….what the hell has this club come to….I’ve documented many a time that I live away now but I’m the proudest Geordie that ever walked this planet and always will be..

      • Shields Mag

        Know what you mean, I started going early 80’s, Keegan, Beardsley, Waddle…class, to see how the club has gone backwards since Ashley took over is unreal…he has us where he wants us though, survival every season.

        • toonterrier

          Snap. I moved back up here thirty odd years ago and the first thing I did was get a season ticket. Lots of brilliant memories but so much disappointment over the last eleven years and have only seen about half a dozen games after dumping my ticket about five years ago and wont return until the club puts the team and supporters first instead of bleeding every penny from the system.

      • pedrodelgardo

        The biggest crime is taking away true ambition – trying to be the best we can be as a club in every aspect – replaced by a retail view of football where success is achieved by making 17th place at lowest cost. SportsDirectShame.

    • Shields Mag

      Agree there 100%. Perez will start.

    • Button Toon

      No offence but I think armchair fans like you don’t see what Perez brings. When you go to games you can see his link up play and the way he makes space for players. Rafa seems to agree with me, he plays most weeks

      • Toontaff

        You’re a nugget……

      • Kenny

        F##k off scum

      • Vodkamagpie

        There must be some reason why he starts, I unfortunately do not see it, however you and the champions league winner manager does, so well done.

      • KennySamsung

        I attend quite a few of the games and I can’t see what you see in Perez or Rafa for that matter. Maybe it is because there is no other No 10 alternative and he is better in training than he is in a real game.

        • Ram Kishore

          Yep we have got only Perez, no alternative.
          I still can’t believe how Rafa played with Diame behind Gayle in the championship in the beginning. He was definitely brought on as an alternative to Sissoko.

      • Rabid Dog

        His link up play against Watford was poor, if not rubbish. He was not involved in the game.

        He only had 37 touches of the ball passed 20 times and only 14 of those were successful. Accuracy 70%

        All of the real attacking play came from the other side of the pitch. For comparison Atsu had 58 touches of the ball. Passed 28 times completing 23 times. Accuracy was 82.1%

  • Button Toon

    Perez has to start.

    • Toontaff

      Start playing?

  • KennySamsung

    If Diame puts in a shift to cover for Shelvey and Kennedys defensive performance is good, balls through to Muto and crosses into Rondon are spot on we could get something from this game.

    I like this selection, on paper it makes me want to watch.

    • Geordiegiants

      Same here and I think that is probably our best side on paper. I don’t think it will be his choice though.

  • Mike

    good luck lads lets go for it

  • mentalman

    I’d stick with the team that played the last match, obviously without fernandez

    • South toon

      Yeah I’m with you but maybe muto over Perez, Perez is much better as an impact sub I think, and shelvey if he’s on it