The final home game of the season is upon us, with title-chasing Liverpool coming to town for an occasion that promises to whip up a brilliant atmosphere inside St James’ Park.
With Rafa’s pre-match comments and the latest injury news in mind, here’s the side we expect to start against the Reds tonight:
(5-4-1): Dubravka – Manquillo, Schar, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie – Perez, Hayden, Shelvey, Atsu – Rondon.
A three-man defence of Dummett, Lascelles and Schar looks likely now the skipper’s recovered from ‘illness’, with Manquillo also set to retain his spot at right wing-back after confirmation that Yedlin will miss out with a ‘groin problem’.
You’d also expect Atsu and Perez to start out wide, but the one area of the pitch that’s hard to predict is who will partner Isaac Hayden in midfield.
Benitez has already admitted that Diame is unlikely to start, meaning it’s between Shelvey and Ki – and I think the former could get the nod.
It could be Shelvey’s last game at St James’ Park should he leave this summer, however Benitez may be giving him one last chance to show what he can do after handing him a rare start at Brighton last weekend.
How do you see us lining up tonight?