Newcastle United will have a huge task on their hands on Tuesday night when Manchester City visit St. James’ Park looking to extend their incredible run of winning form.
Pep Guardiola’s side are firing on all cylinders as they pursue Liverpool at the Premier League summit and have won eight games on the bounce, scoring 28 goals without conceding in their last six matches.
Burnley fell victim last time out through a 5-0 FA Cup fourth round mauling at the Etihad Stadium, whilst Newcastle suffered a 2-0 defeat against Watford at St. James’.
The Magpies were victorious at home against Cardiff in their previous league outing after centre-back Fabian Schar popped up with two well-taken goals to earn the club’s first top-flight win in five matches.
It wouldn’t be false to say that Man City are expected to go up to Newcastle and take all three points, but the 11 men Rafa Benitez lines up will be vying to steer themselves further away from the relegation zone.
Here’s who I think will start for the hosts under the floodlights.
GK: Martin Dubravka
He was rested against Watford but expect Benitez’ first-choice option in between the sticks to return to the starting line-up here.
RWB: DeAndre Yedlin
The USA international has cemented his reputation as Newcastle’s go-to man in the right-wing-back position and is certain to start there again for a huge test.
CB: Jamaal Lascelles
The captain will have a tough test at hand in the heart of the defence against quite possibly the country’s most deadly attack.
CB: Fabian Schar
After his two goals against Cardiff in his last appearances, Schar is a certainty to start alongside Lascelles and will be brimming with confidence.
CB: Florian Lejeune
The Frenchman is set to start three consecutive Premier League matches and will have to be on the top of his game to silence City’s attacking repertoire.
LWB: Matt Ritchie
Ritchie has done well since reverting to an unfamiliar left-wing-back role under Rafa Benitez and put in another excellent shift in the Cardiff win.
CM: Isaac Hayden
After starting the last five top-flight matches for the Magpies, it’s fair to say Hayden must be doing something to impress his boss in the centre of the park.
CM: Sean Longstaff
Jonjo Shelvey could come back in alongside Hayden but Longstaff has taken his chances when given minutes this season and could feature for his biggest appearance yet.
RF: Ayoze Perez
Perez is one of Newcastle’s best goalscorers and his pace will be important on the break in this one.
LF: Christian Atsu
Another pacy forward is Atsu, whose performances this term have improved by the week and what a time it would be to grab his first goal contribution of the season against the English champions.
ST: Salomon Rondon
Even though Rondon hasn’t been overly prolific in front of goal this season, the threat he poses is huge and his hold-up play is commonly second the none. He’ll lead the line.