Rafa Benitez may not be too happy with the administration of Newcastle United but the performances of his side on the field, will be more concerning. The Magpies have picked up just 3 points from their last five league fixtures but are fresh from back to back draws against Crystal Palace and Burnley, and are in the 16th place in the points table, just a point off the drop zone.
They will want to bounce back quickly but face a tough task this weekend, when they welcome Manchester United to St James’ on Sunday. The Red Devils beat Huddersfield Town in the last game and are in decent form and will look for nothing less than three points. But the hosts have enough quality in their side, to be able to take a result from this game. Here is the predicted lineup Rafa might field for this tie:
Jesus Gamez remains the only long-term absentee ahead of this game as the likes of Mohamed Diame, Ciaran Clark and Jose Mato are all declared fit for this weekend. Islam Slimani, the January signing for Newcastle is struggling with a thigh injury and might not be ready for this game.
Expected lineup (4-4-2):
Rob Elliot has lost his place in the first team under Rafa, who has used Karl Darlow for almost every game since the turn of the year. He should retain his place in the side even after the howler against Burnley. Paul Dummett has been preferred at left-back in the last couple of games and should start this game as well while DeAndre Yedlin is expected to keep his place at right-back.
Ciaran Clark is back fit and is the first choice CB for Rafa along with Jamaal Lascelles, who will have a tough task keeping the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez at bay this weekend.
In a four-man midfield, the Spanish manager has used Mikel Merino to good effect in the middle of the park. He should be partnered by Mohamed Diame, who scored his side’s only goal, in the game against Palace.
January signing Kenedy has been effective on the left side of the midfield and could start his third consecutive game for Newcastle United this season. Christian Atsu, who came off the bench last weekend, could replace Matt Ritchie on the right flank.
Ayoze Perez is a constant presence in the attack for the Magpies and he should start alongside Joselu, who will add a physical presence to this Newcastle attack.
Here is how they might line up:
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