The narrow loss against Manchester City at home earlier in the week will definitely not make Rafa Benitez happy but he cannot have too many complaints about the performance of his side against the best team in the league at the moment. As a result, the Magpies are struggling in the 15th place in the points table, halfway through the season.
They play Brighton & Hove Albion in the battle of the newly-promoted in the final game of 2017 for both clubs. The Seagulls are fresh from a loss to Chelsea and will be level on points with the Magpies if they fail to take anything from this trip to the St James’ Park. Rafa Benitez will surely want all three points from this game and here is the predicted lineup he might field in search of that result.
The Tyneside outfit will still be without the services of Jesus Gamez, Aleksandar Mitrovic, Florian Lejeune and Isaac Hayden, all of whom are ruled out for this game. The manager used a 5-4-1 system against the free-scoring City side but is expected to revert to a more natural 4-2-3-1 system for this game.
Expected lineup (4-2-3-1):
Though he has plenty of options for this role, the manager has stuck with Rob Elliot in goal this season who is expected to start this game as well, under the bar, for Newcastle. He should be shielded by a CB pairing of Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark this weekend. Lascelles has been ever present at the back this season for his side while Clark, who was not used in the previous game, will partner him at the back.
DeAndre Yedlin has been solid at right back for the Magpies this season and should keep his place in the side along with Javier Manquillo, who also remains the first choice left-back for Rafa this season.
With Hayden injured, the manager is expected to stick with Mikel Merino, who only came off the bench against Manchester City and Jonjo Shelvey, who will be expected to add spark and some creativity to this Newcastle United midfield against the Seagulls.
Though not the best in the league, Joselu has been effectively leading the attack up front but a lot of credit needs to be given to Ayoze Perez, who has played the role of a support striker to precision. The duo will start again this weekend and will look to get the better of Duffy and Dunkin in this tie.
Matt Ritchie is another player who was sacrificed for the game against City. However, he has been effective on the right flank and should be back in action along with Christian Atsu, who should start on the left flank.
Here is how they might line up: