A disrupted Newcastle United will look to bounce back from an opening day 2-0 defeat to Spurs when they travel to the John Smith’s Stadium to take on fellow newly-promoted outfit Huddersfield Town on Sunday.
David Wagner’s overhauled side took their first ever Premier League game by storm last weekend, easily overturning Crystal Palace 3-0 at Selhurst Park.
There is a stark contrast between the two sides. United’s starting eleven against Spurs contained just two new players, whereas Huddersfield’s had five.
The Terriers go into this match as the bookies’ favourites and rightly so considering their win last week and the absence of Jonjo Shelvey, who unfortunately, is a key player for Rafa.
Here, I try to predict the Newcastle United eleven that will take to the field this Sunday. The formation is 4-2-3-1.
GK – Rob Elliot
The Republic of Ireland international recently took the number one shirt and although Rafa is searching for a new keeper, Elliot is one of the first names on the team sheet.
He’ll be hoping to get his first clean sheet of the season.
RB – Javi Manquillo
Manquillo has a lot to prove this season after a couple of really underwhelming campaigns. Brought in to provide cover for DeAndre Yedlin – who is still not 100% – the Spaniard fared quite well against Spurs but two lapses in concentration led to both of the opposition’s goals.
If he can cut out those defensive errors, perhaps Manquillo could prove to be a clever acquisition after all.
CB – Jamaal Lascelles
This season’s captain came on for the injured Florian Lejeune last weekend and looked to be a much better player than the one littered with hernia problems towards the back-end of last season.
Lascelles played in the victory against Huddersfield last season so he knows what it takes to get a result at their place
CB – Chancel Mbemba
There has been plenty of speculation surrounding the future of Mbemba this summer after a disappointing Championship campaign pushed him towards the exit door.
However, the injuries to Lejeune and Dummett could represent one last chance for the former Anderlecht man to cement himself into Rafa’s plans.
LB – Ciaran Clark
Following the untimely injury to Paul Dummett, it was Clark who filled in at left-back, and not for the first time. The 27-year-old played in that position during preseason and held his own.
CM – Isaac Hayden
Hayden became an unexpectedly key player for Newcastle last season and it looks as if he’ll have a similar role this time around in the Premier League, especially given the imminent exit of Jack Colback.
The young anchorman has his best years ahead of him and if he can prove himself in England’s top-flight, he’ll become one of the club’s most prized assets.
CM – MIKEL MERINO
Arriving on loan from German giants Borussia Dortmund, Mikel Merino is an unknown quantity to most United fans.
However, if his 20-minute cameo against Tottenham is anything to go by, then the young Spaniard could bring some much-needed competition for the hot-headed Jonjo Shelvey.
RM – Matt Ritchie
Ritchie was one of the first names on the team sheet last season but with the arrival of Jacob Murphy and Christian Atsu (permanently), as well as the return of Rolando Aarons, he should be looking over his shoulder.
His work rate and tactical discipline is key for Rafa, especially in away games, so I can’t foresee him coming out of the side just yet.
CAM – Mohamed Diame
Last season, both Diame and Perez constantly shuffled in the ten role with neither really making a case to be the go-to man behind the striker. That could well be the case this time around, and as Diame is back to full fitness, he’s certainly in with a shout.
The powerful midfielder started the away fixture to Huddersfield in the 3-1 win so don’t be surprised if you see him on the team sheet.
LM – Christian Atsu
Atsu was very inconsistent during United’s Championship-winning campaign but did show flashes of brilliance along the way. There wasn’t much space for him to utilise his pace in last year but given Newcastle’s likeliness to play on the counter this season, perhaps Atsu could shine.
That was definitely the case against Spurs as the former Chelsea wide man gave Kyle Walker-Peters – who was somehow given MOTM – a tough day at the office
ST – Dwight Gayle
There is an argument to made for new signing Joselu to immediately grab a starting place in the side, but I think Rafa will be aiming to use Gayle’s pace on the counter for about 60 minutes with the Spaniard coming on in his place towards the end.
It’s 50/50 between Gayle and Joselu, but one thing is for sure; they’ll both get some minutes