Predicted Newcastle team v Wolves at Molineux
An interesting one this time with the predicted Newcastle team v Wolves.
On Friday afternoon, Rafa informed us that only Rob Elliot and Jonjo Shelvey were definitely unavailable for this game.
However, he did add that it is also always a big decision as to when you introduce new signings such as Almiron and Barreca to your starting eleven.
With so many more potential options, it undoubtedly makes debate on who could possibly start against Wolves, far more interesting.
However, I get the feeling that a lot of fans might feel a little underwhelmed when they see the team Rafa has chosen.
The manager will look at these past three games and wonder exactly why he should be making any big changes for such a game, a tough away match against a team that have suddenly found their shooting boots. Scoring 10 in their last three PL games after only 21 in the first 22.
I think if this game was Huddersfield at home then it would be a far tougher choice for Rafa to make, as the emphasis would be on having to score goals.
These last three games saw the 3-0 win over Cardiff and then around three hours of football where Newcastle didn’t concede against two of the top three after Aguero scored that goal early on. Son scoring after 83 minutes in the game at Wembley.
On that basis, I think it is all but certain the manager will stick with that same five in front of Martin Dubravka.
No reason to change Yedlin or the three centre-backs (although no worries if Fernandez and/or Clark were introduced), whilst I think Ritchie will stay at left wing-back for at least one more game.
Kenedy won’t be chosen there and I definitely can’t see Barreca being thrown into such a tough game, the same with Dummett who has been out for six weeks.
In central midfield I can see one change happening.
However, I don’t see it being Sean Longstaff making way, as he has been excellent.
Hayden has done ok but I think so long as Mohamed Diame is showing a high level of fitness in training, he will come back in. Though I wouldn’t rule out Ki either – but I don’t see any of them replacing Longstaff.
Salomon Rondon will obviously play but what about behind him?
Atsu and Perez have had odd moments but these two positions are obviously where there is massive room for improvement in the team. Only three goals and one assist between them in the Premier League this season tells you everything, far far better is needed for players in the supporting roles to the main striker.
A bit like Barreca, I see zero chance of Almiron going straight in for this kind of game, especially when there is a two week gap including a warm weather training camp in Spain, before the following match. I see him on the bench but even then I think Rafa would only put him on in certain circumstances.
A lot of supporters might be disappointed but I see both Perez and Atsu clinging onto their places still for this one.
Rafa Benitez is at times capable of throwing in the odd big surprise in his teams and if there was a surprise, I wouldn’t be amazed if he threw Kenedy back in from nowhere, just to see if it gt a positive reaction after seven weeks without a PL start.
Equally though, I wouldn’t be amazed if Kenedy was left out of the matchday 18 altogether, as Rafa Benitez at last has most of his squad available.
Picking seven subs as well below, it was good to be thinking of positive choices on the bench as well. With the likes of Muto and Ki, as well as Barreca and Almiron, as choices – I have even left Ciaran Clark out of the 18 despite him doing a decent job this season.
Not having to include players such as Joselu and Manquillo a big relief.
This being my predicted Newcastle team v Wolves:
A team that will hopefully see Rafa’s side make it points not just goal difference that keeps them above the relegation zone.
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