After a less than impressive summer transfer window, Newcastle United have struggled to find some consistency this season in the domestic league. They picked up a point against Cardiff City on Match Day 2 but have lost the other three games, including the EFL Cup tie against Nottingham Forest. Rafa Benitez would be disappointed with the results, and it only gets tougher for them this weekend, when they welcome Arsenal to St James’ Park.
The Gunners lost their first two league games but were back with a bang, beating West Ham and Cardiff City more recently. They will be a team full of confidence and will be favourites to take all three points from this clash. But Rafa’s side are not easy to beat at home and could put up a fight. Here is the predicted lineup Newcastle United might field for this tie:
Rafa Benitez revealed that Matt Ritchie is still working on his fitness and might miss this game. But the manager was confident that Jonjo Shelvey would return to the first team this weekend. Florian Lejeune remains a long-term absentee while Javi Manquillo will undergo late fitness tests to make this tie.
Expected lineup (5-4-1):
Martin Dubravka has been impressive in the last few games but was unlucky not to win his team some points. He remains the first choice for Rafa under the bar for this tie. DeAndre Yedlin is just back from international duty and was Newcastle’s goalscorer against Manchester City in the last game. He should keep his place at right-back while Paul Dummett should retain his first-team spot, in the absence of Manquillo.
Ciaran Clark and Jamaal Lascelles have not done enough to provide cover for Dubravka’s goal. Both players will have to keep the likes of Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette quiet if the Magpies are to take anything from this game. Federico Fernandez had a fruitful time against City and would want to put in a similar performance this weekend as well.
With Shelvey back in the squad, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet for Rafa. He is expected to start at the heart of the midfield, alongside Mohamed Diame, who has been impressive this season.
With Ritchie not fully fit, Ayoze Perez could be pushed on to the right flank while the pace and creativity of Kenedy should add some width to the midfield on the left wing.
Salomon Rondon was also busy on international duty in the break. But he is a genuine goalscorer and could be the biggest threat for Arsenal, in this game.
Here is how they might line up:
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