Newcastle return to home comforts this afternoon, taking on Stoke City in the 3pm kick off at St. James’ Park, hoping to make it three successive wins in the league.
After a win at Swansea last Sunday, some way wonder why we’d change a winning formula, but we expect Benitez to make TWO changes from last weekend – here’s our predicted line up for today’s game:
Newcastle United XI – (4-2-3-1) – Elliot – Manquillo, Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba – Hayden, Merino – Ritchie, Perez , Atsu – Joselu
Mbemba IN, Gamez OUT – Harsh on the Spaniard – who did superbly last Sunday – but I can’t help but feel Stoke’s Xherdan Shaqiri will offer a very different threat. Swansea played with very little width and rarely ran at Gamez, and that is something i’d very much expect the Stoke winger to do. Mbemba had been one of our stand out performers at left-back against Huddersfield and West Ham prior to an injury, and now he is back, i’d be keen to see him come back in to combat the pace and trickery of the dangerous Shaqriri.
Atsu IN, Murphy OUT – The Ghanaian has looked very lively so far this season and found himself unlucky to miss out against Swansea. Murphy took his place, but failed to make an impact on the game. Atsu has been arguably our biggest attacking threat in previous home matches against Spurs and West Ham and deserves a recall.
Personally, I would prefer to see Shelvey start over Perez, however it’s difficult to see how Shelvey fits into the no.10 role (especially when you consider how high up the pitch Rafa has ’10’ playing) and it’s hard to see how he’ll get in ahead of Merino and Hayden whose partnership in the middle has been a big factor towards recent back to back wins.
Predicted Stoke City XI – (3-4-3) – Butland – Wimmer, Zouma, Martins Indi – Diouf, Fletcher, Allen, Pieters – Shaqiri, Choupo-Moting, Jese.