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News and Commentary On Newcastle United By Ed Harrison, A Proud Exiled Geordie And Lifelong Fan

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Is This Newcastle’s Best Team For Vitesse?

1:05 pm, Saturday, July 30th, 2016 by Dr. Ed Harrison · 26 Comments

The team that Rafa starts today against Vitesse will give us a decent indication of what team he will start on Friday night in the first league game of the Championship season.

rafa benitez close-up

Rafa Benitez

Here’s our team in a 4-2-3-1 formation:

Janmaat Lascelles (c) Mbemba Gamez
Shelvey Hayden
Richie Perez Aarons

In goal Matz Sels has had a few dodgy moments in pre-season and Karl Darlow looked (very) good on Tuesday night at Southend, but maybe Sels is just settling into the team – so we expect him to start today.

It’s probably too early to play Grant Hanley at the back because of his lack of match practice, but expect him to play at least the second half today and he will put pressure on Chancel Mbemba for a starting position once the season kicks off.

At left back we have Jesus Gamez rather than local lad Paul Dummett or Vurnon Anita.

Surely Rafa brought Gamez in from playing Champions League football with Atletico Madrid to become a starter at Newcastle?

Paul Dummett could start today, but we expect at some point for Jesus to become a starter in the back four – somewhere.

The two holding positions are interesting and we have gone with Shelvey and Hayden, although Vurnon Anita, Jack Colback and Cheick Tiote are all pushing for a place – that’s a tough choice for those two important positions

But Shelvey has shown good form and Isaac has been a  revelation at Newcastle so far and they seem to play well together.

The two wingers are Matt Ritchie and Rolando Aarons – not much doubt there – assuming Matt is fit.

We have the in-form Ayoze Perez in the number 10 spot.

Up front is Dwight Gayle to get some playing time with Aleksandar Mitrovic banned for the first four games of the season.

OK – now for the important stuff – what team would you start today?

Comments welcome.

Tags: Friendlies · Match Preview · Newcastle News · Pre-season · Prediction

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Ron Knee // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:09 PM


    You could be right about Benitez’s thinking.
    I’m irritated that we haven’t been able to watch complete pre-season matches to judge.

  • 2 JDdubai // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    Previous seasons i never really beliveed that when the window closed we would have what we needed, whoever was in charge would say they were happy with the squad but rarely was that the truth.

    Now tho with Rafa I do think that by the end of August we will have the squad he is looking for and we will be covered for the next 4 months.

  • 3 Jail for Ashley // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:12 PM

    Taking my four and a half year old to her first ever game today. Hope we last the 90 minutes.

  • 4 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:16 PM

    Hanley will put pressure bon Lascelles not mbemba.

    I think Lascelles could make a brilliant captain and end up top notch CB but he isnt a cultured one and neither is hanley.

    Mbemba is better than both of them and will compliment them better than they would each other.

    I think Hanley was bought to become captain and play alongside Mbemba.

    He might even edge Lascelles at the moment as to who is the better player but Lascelles has the potential to be a top CB. He needs to play games though and IMO Dunk not Hanley should have been bought.

    Duffy is better than Hanley and would have been cheaper. Dunk is better than both of them.

    The fact that we bought Hanley shows us IMO, that Rafa was going for leadership and not necessarily who was the best CB.

    That means he has decided against Lascelles. Thats the way I see it anyhow.

  • 5 Shadow_Shearer // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:22 PM

    I can see Hanley getting a start today, & subbed off later

  • 6 croftus5678 // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:24 PM

    hanley means we dont lose quality when one of our cb’s is injured and is more vocal and organised which will help the defence on the pitch and in training.

    we have competition for places of high standards and an arguement for which players should be starting which is great ! it doesnt mean any of them ar not goo there just that we have so much competition for places of almost equal quality that theres no longer a concrete starting 11 like we are used to in the past.

  • 7 tomellifred360 // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:26 PM

    Creating a Fantasy Football League if anyone is interested.


  • 8 jazzyp // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:27 PM

    Don’t know why people constantly nit pick at other peoples humble views when other’s have no issue with them.
    And constantly make up views that other do no have or portray

  • 9 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:28 PM

    What happens if the CB’s dont get injured Croftus. Many teams go through the season without getting an injury in that position.

    We really have to lose the feeling that it is a normal thing. Taylor has left now.

    I doubt the captain of Blackburn will be happy sitting on the bench for an entire season.

    Everything points to Lascelles as the one who makes way and its a shame really.

  • 10 SA Toon // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:30 PM

    Those of you lucky enough to be going to SJP today, enjoy the game and make some noise for the new boys. I’m jealous as hell!

  • 11 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:30 PM

    Who has done that Jazzy? Me? My point was in contrast to the article

  • 12 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:31 PM

    Ron Knee me too mate. That is why I think we will have a huge crowd today because we havent really had a chance to see anything yet and the first game is away.

  • 13 JDdubai // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:35 PM

    Personally I would start Mbemba at RB for our away games, at least for the first month. Back 4 of :


    I reckon every team we play at their patch will come out the blocks like maniacs and launching the ball into the box every chance they get. With Mbemba Rb we will be much more solid and think it could be a better way to begin with.

  • 14 Bambams // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:38 PM

    I think there is a good chance through the season Rafa may at times use the three CB’S at the same time and have wing backs bombing on….

    It’s going to be an interesting start to the season and I hope we get a great start …

  • 15 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:41 PM

    It would be a waste IMO Dubai. Mbemba is a fine CB. The best I have seen at the toon in a long long time. Since Albert really.

    Play your best players in their best positions is something I have always believed.

    Gamez or Jaanmaat can handle anything fulham throws at them. They are a very poor team.

    They stayed up last season because they had 2 good strikers. Now they only have one and even he could be gone before we play them.

  • 16 jazzyp // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:44 PM

    Fun loving
    No mate, my apologies if you thought that.
    The guy knows who I am talking about .
    Every time I post he is on my case, yet no body else has issue with what I say apart from having a good old debate, Which is what this forum is all about

  • 17 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:45 PM

    Bambams its a system I like to see but Rafas history shows he likes proper fullbacks not wingbacks. One of the reasons I think Jaanmaat will be away.

    I think almost everyone who plays against us is going to park the bus and sit deep. Its the only option they have really as we are far too dangerous not to respect us.

    That means we need quick counter attacks and a solid back 4 so that we cant be caught on the break when we push forward.

    Yet another reason I dont think Mitro will get much game time as we will need pace in abundance.

  • 18 davetoon // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:46 PM

    what time is the game on lads?

  • 19 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:47 PM

    No probs Jazzy, it was just that Id made most of the comments on this article when you wrote that. Most of the others were talking about going to the match.

    It does confuse me sometimes the way conversations continue on here from different articles lol.

  • 20 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:47 PM

    3.00pm and I gotta go soon

  • 21 jazzyp // Jul 30, 2016 at 1:55 PM

    Fun loving
    Are you a regular at the games ??Do you sit platinum !!

  • 22 Ron Knee // Jul 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM

    Mbemba has suffered ankle injury in training but should be OK for Fulham #nufc

  • 23 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 2:00 PM

    Yeah and no.

    Yeah I go to all the home ones and a few of the away. Not platinum though, sports bar.

    Im really looking forward to going to Burton. It might be the only time in our lives we get to go there in the league.

  • 24 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 2:01 PM

    So after all those discussions about Mbemba playing with either Hanley or Lascelles we get to see Lascelles and Mbemba after all ha ha.

  • 25 funlovingexpress // Jul 30, 2016 at 2:02 PM

    Lascelles and hanley together after all ha ha

    is how it should have read.

    Gotta go now lads, wrote that before in a hurry hence trhe mistake.

    C ya all after the game

  • 26 nufc 11 // Jul 30, 2016 at 3:49 PM

    Should look to buy iker muniain with the sissoko cash his looking to leave Spain and Rafael Benitez could talk him into moving to nufc.

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