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Rafa Benitez set to make Newcastle United changes against Burnley

2 months ago
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Rafa Benitez has an interesting selection dilemma tonight.

The Newcastle boss has a pretty much full squad to choose from [apart from Clark and Elliot] and coming only three days after the Huddersfield win, do you keep an unchanged team.

As always, Rafa sees the bigger picture and looks to protect his players and squad against potential injury and drop in form.

The manager says that going with the same eleven can help ‘keep the momentum’ but it is also a case of who has physically come out of Saturday’s game the best.

These days of course they have all the data/stats due to constantly monitoring players, so Rafa Benitez has that to help him.

However, tonight is a very important match, a win could see Newcastle as many as seven points above the relegation zone, but a defeat and results elsewhere going against them, Rafa’s team could travel to West Ham on Saturday only one point above the drop.

Regularly in the past, the manager has made clear that the physical demands are very different depending on positions in the team.

For example, central defenders are a lot more able to play games in quick succession, compared to the likes of central midfielders who cover more ground.

I would find it hard to see any change tonight in terms of goalkeeper, three centre-backs and the wing-backs. At two up on Saturday, Rafa was even able to give Matt Ritchie a rest for the final 25 minute or so, the Scottish international having played more games than any other NUFC player this season.

Rondon and Almiron were also subbed, though not until into the final ten minutes.

Very difficult to see Rafa Benitez leaving out Rondon when the alternative is Joselu.

As for Miguel Almiron, I suppose the choice will come down to whether the manager decides to keep him as an impact sub and put Atsu in instead.

On Saturday, those on the bench were Woodman, Manquillo, Dummett, Ki, Atsu, Joselu and Kenedy.

Kenedy looked more lively when he came on against a weak and dispirited Huddersfield but could Rafa maybe even throw him in, rather than Almiron or Atsu?

You can’t rule out the manager putting somebody in who wasn’t even on the bench on Saturday, the likes of Diame, Fernandez, Shelvey and Muto.

However, I have a feeling that the most likely change might be Ki coming into central midfield, to give one of that duo a rest. My money being on Hayden to drop out and Longstaff to stay in.

Maybe the biggest changes will be on the bench, with the manager looking to keep everybody involved, so the likes of Muto and Diame probably included in the matchday 18.

Great to see Rafa Benitez at last with positive selection issues.

My money on Ki very likely playing  tonight, with probably/possibly Atsu or Kenedy in for Almiron.

Rafa Benitez:

“If you play one game a week, maybe it’s okay and you can repeat…keep the same players.

“If you play again in three days, you have to consider the effort of the other game.

“Who can cope with the physicality and the intensity?

“Can the same starters start the game?

“Yes, they could do it, maybe though physically they will lose something.

“Would it [not making any changes] keep the momentum and give them confidence?

“Yes, that could be, but at the same time you have to analyse which positions are more dangerous, where you have to make a substitution.”

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