Newcastle expected XI v Manchester City: Duo axed as Benitez makes major tactical change
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez is expected to make serious changes to his tactics when Manchester City visit St James’ Park on Wednesday.
The Magpies were able to secure their first win in 10 games on Saturday, snatching a 3-2 win away at West Ham to complete a double over the Hammers and climb out of the relegation zone.
Due to injury and suspensions, the Spanish boss was forced to make use of several fringe players in his side, which in turn saw him utilise a 4-4-2 formation at the London Stadium.
However he is expected to revert to a much more conservative 4-3-2-1 tactic for the clash against league leaders Manchester City, who have been in imperious form and are on a 17 game winning streak.
Striker Joselu and midfielder Henri Saivet, who scored against West Ham in what was his first league appearance of the season, are likely to be axed in favour of returning central pair Mikel Merino and Jonjo Shelvey.
After a relatively solid defensive display against the Hammers, which included a penalty save from Rob Elliot, Benitez is unlikely to change his back line against the most potent attacking threat in the Premier League this season.
Instead he is expected to pack out the midfield to frustrate the City players, with Merino and Shelvey set to return from injury and suspension respectively, with Diame retaining his place to offer a physical presence.
Christian Atsu, who starred on the left flank at the London Stadium, will likely be supporting a solitary striker up front alongside Matt Ritchie, with Dwight Gayle Benitez’s probable choice considering his scoring record against top sides this season.
In other Newcastle United news, Alan Shearer has revealed that the club were on the brink of securing two top flight strikers in summer.