Newcastle United have had a pretty dreadful season so far as they are yet to win a single game. Their most recent match ended with a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester United. Despite taking a two-goal lead, Newcastle couldn’t hold on as the difference of quality between the two sides showed in the second half.
Although Newcastle are still winless, the nature of the league so far this season means no side around them have been able to break away. The difference between the top half of the table and the bottom half seems quite a lot this time, and that might help the Magpies bounce back as they are just a couple of wins away from mid-table.
Rafa Benitez has rotated his squad to find the right balance but he doesn’t have too many quality options. We try and construct Newcastle’s strongest XI.
Considering their resources, a back four is the best way to go forward. Federico Fernandez has started well at his new club, but it looks like Jamaal Lascelles and Ciaran Clark is the best centre-back pairing. Florian Lejeune could have been the preferred choice had he been fit.
DeAndre Yedlin and Paul Dummett are best options as the fullbacks. Javier Manquillo has failed to impress and is more suited to a backup role. Martin Dubravka is yet to hit the form of last season but is the best ‘keeper in the squad.
Benitez has tried to rotate his midfield but watching the team play this season, we can’t help but wonder why they didn’t replace Mikel Merino with a like for like midfielder. Ki is good regarding recycling the ball, but Merino’s ability to pick a pass has been missed this season.
Jonjo Shelvey is just a must in that midfield, and Mo Diame is perhaps the best option to play alongside the England midfielder.
Ayoze Perez has been far from consistent, and maybe it’s time to play Yoshinori Muto behind the forward. The Japanese international is pretty good with his passing and can drop deep to play a hand in the build-up play as well.
Kenedy and Matt Ritchie have performed well on the wide areas and should be the preferred options. The former has managed 1.6 dribbles per game and offers that spark in the attacking half. Joselu is someone who divides opinion at Tyneside. However, he can get into good positions.
The Spaniard has scored twice so far this season and has taken more shots than any other player this season, so Benitez should perhaps persist with the forward.
Kenedy – Muto – Ritchie
Shelvey – Diame
Dummett – Lascelles – Clark – Yedlin
Stats via Whoscored