After our convincing 3-0 win over West Ham last time out, Rafa Benitez may have been inclined to stick with the same side at Swansea on Sunday, but with Lejeune and Yedlin coming back from injury, Shelvey available after suspension and Chancel Mbemba suffering an injury on international duty, he may shake things up a little.
Here’s the XI we’d like to see us start with on Sunday:
Clark and Lascelles did a good job against West Ham, however were rarely tested. Florian Lejeune is available for selection and the Frenchman looks a class act and one i’d like to see come straight back in the team. He and Clark look to be our two best centre-backs.
At full-back Mbemba is almost certain to miss out, and with Dummett injured, i’d be inclined to move the versatile Javier Manquillo to left-back and bring fit-again DeAndre Yedlin back in at left-back. His pace, athleticism and combinations with Matt Ritchie down the right would be a welcome return to the team, whilst Manquillo is more than capable of filling in at left-back, having done so during his loan spells at Sunderland and Liverpool.
Jonjo Shelvey is available once again after serving his 3-game suspension. It would not be fair to see him replace Mikel Merino or Isaac Hayden – who were superb in the 3-0 win over West Ham – however i’d be tempted to play Shelvey just ahead of the midfield duo. Perez put in a good shift against the Hammers, but his final ball is often lacking and he has a tendency to go missing, so using Shelvey in a slightly more advanced role could get the best out of his devastating quality on the ball. For clarity, I would not want Shelvey to be used as second striker like Perez, but instead just ahead of the two central midfielders.
In attack Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie’s recent performances mean they pick themselves, with new boy Joselu being the man i’d start up top. He lead the line very well on his home debut against West Ham, linking the play, holding his own and grabbing an all important goal too. Mitrovic is suspended and whilst Gayle is an option, talk of him leaving on deadline day suggests he may not be in the best frame of mind to play just now.
The above team is a long shot, but could well be worth a try, with considerable improvements needed from our last away game at Huddersfield.
Let us know your thoughts. Do you like the look of this team, or do you have other ideas in mind?