After being on the end of a disappointing result against Blackburn Rovers at the weekend, Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United side will be looking to impress in the EFL Cup against Premier League outfit Hull City on Tuesday night.
Newcastle will travel to Humberside to compete in the quarter finals of the EFL cup, a game the Magpies will be looking to win to show the rest of England that they are finally capable of competing in domestic competitions with their new Spanish mastermind at the helm.
The last time Newcastle faced Hull, they came out victorious, beating the Tigers 3-0 in one of just three wins they picked up under former caretaker boss John Carver’s maladroit stewardship during the 2014/15 campaign.
In the last three games against Hull, United have won two and drawn one.
Mike Phelan’s Tigers are currently sitting in 18th place in the Premier League, just four points above bottom place Sunderland, who have a disappointing total of just eight points.
Hull have had a mixed set of results in recent weeks, however, after their well-fought out 1-1 draw against West Brom, they will have confidence coming into this EFL cup fixture.
Trying to predict Rafa’s starting 11 has proven to be incredibly difficult this season, however in this article I will attempt to predict the Spaniard’s XI at the KCOM Stadium.
Goalkeeper – Matz Sels
Matz Sels will start in goal for United on Tuesday night. The Belgian had some shaky moments in goal earlier on in the season but I’m confident he has been working on his mistakes on the training pitch and they will soon be amended. The only way he is going to improve is to play regularly, right?
Sels will definitely be looking to impress as he vies to steal the number one position back from Karl Darlow.
The Belgian international has shown his shot stopping skills to be more than adequate, but his handling and decision making have cost Newcastle on numerous occasions over the opening months of the season. However, in his last game against Preston, Sels played relatively well and managed to finish with a clean sheet, which should bode well for his confidence.
Left Back – Paul Dummett
The experienced Jesus Gamez replaced Dummett on Saturday and many said it was because Dummett was being rested for this Cup clash. At the start of the season, Dummett was unfairly criticized, but he has been impressive in his recent games, proving many of his critics wrong.
The Welshman will facing up against one of Hull’s star performers, Robert Snodgrass who has performed admirably for both the Tigers and the Scottish national team so far this season.
In my opinion, Dummett is the best left back at the club and I will be pleased to see the Welshman return to the starting XI at the KCOM.
Right Back – DeAndre Yedlin
The American has been superb when playing for United and has quickly became one of the fan favourites at the club.
DeAndre has shown his strength, power and pace down the righthand side of the pitch and he never fails to bring a certain level excitement to the game with his frequent forward forays.
His chief competitor, Vurnon Anita, has been playing fantastically recently and Benitez has a difficult decision dilemma between the versatile Dutchman and the pacy American.
Yedlin brings more of an attacking option and Anita tends to stick to his position, allowing the team to look more solid in defence.
Both players do their job very well but, personally, I would like to see Yedlin on Tuesday.
Centre Back – Jamaal Lascelles
Lascelles was left out against Blackburn on Saturday and Newcastle missed his colossal presence in the heart of their defence.
The Newcastle captain always gives a strong, sturdy performance for the black and whites.
Many said that we lacked a leader following our shock home defeat to Rovers and fans will happy to see the skipper return to the starting XI at the KCOM Stadium.
Centre Back – Ciaran Clark
Ciaran Clark was somewhat of a left-field signing from Newcastle over the summer, however the former Aston Villa man has surpassed many fans’ meagre expectations by emerging as one of the club’s most accomplished defenders over the opening months of the season.
The burgeoning relationship Clark has developed with skipper Lascelles was instrumental in the nine-match winning run which preceded Saturday’s shock defeat to Blackburn, and Rafa is likely to reinstate the 27-year-old to the heart of his back four after fellow defender Chancel Mbemba failed to grasp his chance against Rovers.
Centre Midfield – Jonjo Shelvey
Shelvey has been superb for United so far this season. His range of passing has inspired the Magpies to a whole host of victories and he finally looks back to his best form after a tumultuous start to his career on Tyneside.
Hopefully, Jonjo will step up and produce his brilliance in this pivotal game in United’s season.
Centre Midfield – Isaac Hayden
Hayden will be facing his old teammates on Tuesday. The former Arsenal prospect has been fantastic this season and it has been a pleasant surprise to see a young English midfielder look so composed and comfortable on the ball.
I think Hayden is the right man to partner Shelvey at the KCOM, with the 21-year-old’s dynamism giving Newcastle an added threat on the attack.
Left Midfield – Yoan Gouffran
Gouffran was left out against Blackburn which suggests the Frenchman will be played in this cup fixture against Hull.
The diligent Frenchman has an incredible work rate; he always giving his all to help his team come out victorious. An interesting fact is that we have yet to lose when Yoan has started this season, underpinning his understated importance to the team.
Right Midfield – Matt Ritchie
Ritchie has shown that he has a temper and he plays with aggression, especially against the so called ‘big teams’.
Despite making an impressive start to life on Tyneside, the 27-year-old hasn’t lived up to his price tag in his recent performances. He has given the ball away too often and fans started to get on the Scotsman’s back against Blackburn after a sub-par display.
He really needs to step up to the plate and prove his worth against the Tigers.
Attacking Midfield – Mohammed Diame
Diame played for Hull last season, scoring the famous goal that sent the Tigers back into the Premier League during a dramatic play-off final.
The Senegalese powerhouse has been rotated in the number 10 position with Perez so far this season, and Diame will definitely be looking to show his class and strength on Tuesday night to earn his place back in Benitez’s starting lineup.
Striker – Dwight Gayle
Newcastle’s top scorer Dwight Gayle will be the striker against Hull.
Dwight will certainly be looking to add to his impressive goal tally. His movement up top has been fantastic, stretching opposition back fours and putting games to bed with his clinical finishing.
If Newcastle are to progress to the semi-finals, Gayle will have a major say on proceedings.