Rafa Benitez has just announced the side for the game this afternoon at St. Mary’s against a good Southampton side, where we really need pick up something from this game – and hopefully a win – although that looks a tough ask.
Ayoze Perez and Aleksandar Mitrovic come back into the side and they replace Check Tiote and Papiss Cisse who both drop down to the bench.
There is no Fabricio Coloccini even on the bench today although Paul Dummett is in the 18 man squad but Vurnon Anita is again at left back where he had a torrid time last week.
Newcastle (4-2-3-1): Karl Darlow; Daryl Janmaat, Steven Taylor, Chancel Mbemba, Vurnon Anita; Jonjo Shelvey (c), Georginio Wijnaldum; Andros Townsend, Ayoze Perez, Moussa Sissoko; Aleksandar Mitrovic
Substitutes: Freddie Woodman, Paul Dummett, Jamaal Lascelles, Cheick Tiote, Siem de Jong, Gabriel Obertan, Papiss Cisse
Referee: Robert Madley (West Yorkshire)
Coloccini has now been out seven weeks with that calf injury he picked up during the warm-down in southern Spain after the 2-1 win against Lillestrom – and as far as we know he’s fit and been training all week.
It looks like Gini will be in central midfield with Jonjo Shelvey and it’s Ayoze Perez who may be in the number 10 role.
Gabby Obertan is on the bench so maybe he’s showing some good form in training and when he’s in form he can set up the chances from the wing.
The defense must be stronger than we were last week when we conceded three poor goals including that killer in the 3rd minute of stoppage time that had Norwich gain a full 3 points on us.
Two of the players we signed in January are not even on the bench – Seydou Doumbia and Henri Saivet – so that doesn’t say too much about our January acquisitions.
This is what Rafa has said about having more options now than when he joined Newcastle four weeks ago:
“We have Mitrovic scoring goals and Ayoze Perez is doing well,” “The good thing is that we also have Papiss Cisse back and he was good the other day so we have the quality. But this gives me a problem because I have to decide who to play.”
“Before, Papiss was injured and I couldn’t choose him but now he’s another option and the competition for places in this area is good for the team.”
“When people ask why certain players are not playing it is a positive because at least I have this option. I’m very pleased with the way Ayoze, Mitrovic, Papiss, Emmanuel Riviere and Seydou Doumbia are competing for places at the moment.”
“I’m really pleased with Mitrovic every day, not just when he came off the bench. In training he is doing very well and giving it his all.”
“But it wouldn’t be fair to single him out because every is training well and I can guarantee that they are giving it their all. We are trying to improve every day to be ready for the next challenge against Southampton.
“The team has to improve mentally and approach the game with confidence and positivity. Hopefully if we do this against Southampton we can do well and get the result that we want.”
Only one in four fans think we can win this game today.
We must go all out for the win but we have to put in a good 95 minutes to be able to do that.
Howay The Lads!!