Just three days after our disappointing 2-0 defeat to Wolves, we face Walter Zenga’s side yet again in this EFL trophy third round clash.
In what was a subdued performance by Rafa’s men, tonight represents the perfect opportunity to take stock of what went wrong and take the necessary steps to correct it.
With squad rotation a must at this level, signs point to Benitez handing new striker Daryl Murphy a start in tonight’s match at SJP as well as defender Grant Hanley. How he intends to shoehorn the former into the starting line-up remains to be seen; fellow striker Dwight Gayle’s record in this competition (below) certainly isn’t to be grumbled at with the former Palace man netting 8 goals in 6 appearances during his career.
— Goodbrand Stats (@StatsChristian) 20 September 2016
As is now common knowledge, full back Vurnon Anita will not appear in tonight’s game or indeed the trip to Villa or game against Norwich City after getting sent off in Saturday’s defeat.
With Zenga’s men not bothering to head home after Saturday’s game with a return fixture just a couple of days later (correct me if I’m wrong), a prolonged stay in the north east capital could indeed unsettle tonight’s opponents.
With the presence of Murphy up top providing a much more direct outlet, and the likes of Hanley using tonight as a means of proving their worth to the gaffer, tonight we’re expecting the Magpies to bounce back from Saturday’s defeat with a comfortable 3-1 win in the return fixture.
Predicted Line-Up (4-4-2)