The majority of Newcastle’s side will picks itself ahead of Saturday’s crucial match with Leicester City, but Rafa Benitez has two big decisions – does he start and out of sorts Kenedy and does he drop an out of sorts Ayoze Perez?
With the defence standing strong at Palace, Diame and Shelvey our best midfield partnership, Ritchie a stalwart and Joselu almost certain to start after Rondon’s injury, the majority of our starting 11 seems nailed on.
That being said, our lack of goal threat has been there for all to see in recent weeks – with notable dips in form for Kenedy and Perez leaving us looking toothless in attack.
This, for me, gives Rafa two big decisions to make ahead of Saturday’s game:
Kenedy or Murphy / Atsu?
The Brazilian was a key player for us in the second half of last year and one of the key reasons behind our rise from relegation candidates to a top half finish. He looked after the ball well, chipped in with a few goals and gave us that bit of flare we’d been lacking.
So far this season, he’s been anything but those things. He sorely lacking in confidence after horror shows at Cardiff and Forest and hasn’t showed much sign of improvement since, unfortunately.
Does Rafa continue with him in the hope that he can rediscover that form and confidence, or does he give Jacob Murphy or Christian Atsu a shot?
Perez or Muto?
Ayoze appears to be one of Rafa’s first names on the team sheet, but that must be under threat given how poor he’s been in recent weeks?
Yes Rafa failed to sign a natural number 10 over the summer, but it looks like new boy Yoshinori Muto is able to play in that second striker role too – so we finally have an alternative option.
Muto is yet to start a game in the Premier League as of yet (so I’m not holding my breath for this one), but he’s immediately offered more than Perez has been when he’s come on from the bench in the last few games.
Perez has been weak, cheap in possession and lacking in any sort of conviction, so it seems a risk free move to put in Muto on Ayoze’s current form.
What do you think he’ll go with?
(Fancy writing for us? Send any articles/ideas over to us at NUFCblogsubmissions@gmail.com & we’ll get back to you!)