The new Premier League season is on the horizon and Newcastle United face a tricky opening fixture against an extremely talented Tottenham side who will be eager to get revenge after the 5-1 drubbing they received the last time the two sides met. Newcastle fans are intrigued as to what team Benitez will field against Spurs as it is important United get something from the game.
With that in mind, this is the team I feel is most capable of doing exactly that. The formation is Benitez’s favoured 4-2-3-1.
GK – Rob Elliot
With uncertainty over Karl Darlow’s future, this really is a no brainer. Elliot has got a lot of minutes under his belt throughout pre-season and it is almost certain he will start the season as number one.
Although Benitez is active in the transfer market for a new goalkeeper, he does rate Elliot, as do a lot of fans. Elliot has proved he is more than capable to step up to the task in hand having demonstrated his impressive shot stopping ability and leadership skills in previous outings for United.
RB – Javier Manquillo
With Deandre Yedlin ruled out of the game through injury, Manquillo is the like for like replacement. Brought in to provide cover for Yedlin, this could be his chance to stake a real claim to make the right back position his own.
Having been on the books of the likes of Atletico Madrid and Liverpool, Benitez must feel there is a player there who he can develop.
CB – Jamaal Lascelles
Lascelles was ever present for Newcastle last season, even playing through injury for over 5 months to help United reach their goal of promotion.
This is exactly the sort of commitment Benitez needs from his captain and Lascelles will form a towering presence in the centre of defence while also barking out orders to his teammates.
CB – Florian Lejeune
Going off pre-season, Lejeune looks to be a shrewd piece of business by Benitez. United look to have a real ball playing defender on their hands, something they haven’t had since the departure of Fabricio Coloccini.
However, he is also more than capable of getting stuck in. Of course, it is only pre-season and Lejeune needs to prove he can do it when the real games come along and what a time to do it against Spurs.
LB – Paul Dummett
If it wasn’t for the fact there is nobody else, Dummett wouldn’t be in this team. His lack of pace and concentration has often proved to be his downfall in a Newcastle top. He will need to be at the top of his game if he is to have any sort of chance in this game.
RM – Matt Ritchie
Ritchie was outstanding last season, netting 12 times and providing a further 7 assists. When Newcastle needed that little bit of magic last season Ritchie was always the man to step up.
There is no doubt that if Newcastle are to have a good season, Ritchie will have to be at the top of his game once again. His eye for a goal and quick feet has proved to be a real asset for Rafa Benitez on the right hand side of midfield.
CM – Jonjo Shelvey
A fit and firing Jonjo Shelvey could be a dangerous weapon this season. Time after time, his creativity and football brain got Newcastle out of a lot of tricky situations last season.
He is essentially the heartbeat of this Newcastle team and often when he plays well, so does the rest of the team.
CM – Isaac Hayden
Hayden formed a solid partnership with Shelvey last season, although he needs to prove he can make the step up to the Premier League. With doubts whether new signing Merino will be fit for the start of the season, Hayden is the obvious choice to partner Shelvey in midfield.
LM – Jacob Murphy
Murphy looks a real prospect. On paper, he had an impressive season for Norwich last term netting 9 goals and providing 6 assists.
However, he is another one who has to prove he is capable of doing a job in the Premier League. He will provide pace and skill to the left-hand side, unlike Yoan Gouffran who operated that position for the most part last season.
CAM – Siem de Jong
A wildcard option. Benitez told De Jong at the start of last season to go out on loan and prove his fitness.
That is exactly what he did and now he is back with a point to prove. There is no doubt in my mind that De Jong is an intelligent footballer who, when fit, could prove to a real asset this season.
ST – Dwight Gayle
Gayle had a brilliant Championship campaign netting 23 goals. If given the service, there is no doubt in my mind he can get 10 goals + as he is a natural finisher.
But he needs the service. An experienced centre forward is still desperately needed before the window shuts to take the burden off Gayle, however, for the time being, Gayle has to be the first choice striker.