With three wins in our last three, we come into this week’s game full of confidence, taking on last season’s promotion rivals Brighton at the Amex.
On the back of the 2-1 win over Stoke last weekend, here’s the NUFC XI we expect Rafa to go with for tomorrow’s 4pm kick off:
Newcastle United XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba – Hayden, Merino – Ritchie, Perez , Atsu – Joselu
An unchanged 11 from Stoke last Saturday – here’s why:
Defensively I don’t see much changing. Lascelles and Clark have been rock solid and that continuing could have a big bearing on the result tomorrow, whilst Yedlin and Mbemba should continue at right and left-back. Perhaps a tad harsh on Manquillo and Gamez, who did solid jobs in our last away win at Swansea, but Yedlin and Mbemba seem fair first choice options when fit.
Merino and Hayden have started in midfield during each of our last three and have been a big part of our solid foundations, meaning Benitez is unlikely to break up a winning formula to bring Jonjo Shelvey back into the fold.
Ritchie and Atsu were instrumental once again in the win over Stoke and will almost certainly continue out wide, whilst Perez had one of his busier games last Saturday and should continue in the 10 role – being a player who’ll have fond memories of the Amex after his heroics earlier this year.
Joselu missed a hatful of chances against Stoke meaning his confidence in front of goal may be fragile, however he does hold the ball up well and bring others into play, meaning he’s likely to be given another shot up front.
In a game where chances could be few and far between, some may prefer to see Gayle given the nod, but Joselu’s presence and involvement up top gives him the edge for me – providing he does find his feet in front of goal.
Predicted Brighton XI (4-4-1-1) – Ryan – Bruno, Duffy, Dunk, Suttner– Knockaert, Propper, Stephens, March – Gross – Hemed.