3 Changes Rafael Benitez Should Make For The Game Against Chelsea
Newcastle United manager Rafael Benitez made five changes to his side at West Brom from the XI which lined up against Watford, and more tinkering may be needed for the weekend. All the chopping and changing shouldn’t really bother this squad too much as part of the overall problem has been that very few positions have been nailed down by a definite first choice and so rotation is bound to happen.
Paul Dummett would be the regular left-back but is injured, and the same applies for Jamaal Lascelles at centre-back. Rafa is also having trouble sorting out Joselu, Dwight Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic’s pecking order at centre-forward.
The team improved at the Hawthorns, but will face a very strong attacking Chelsea side at Stamford Bridge and so the following three changes may well be made by Benitez:
Aleksandar Mitrovic For Joselu
Mitro arrived off the bench on Tuesday to his usual rapturous reception from the Newcastle fans and to be fair, he will give the Chelsea defence a lot more to think about than the Spaniard. He will shove, barge and argue the life out of Chelsea’s back three and so even without scoring, he would make his presence felt a lot more.
Joselu did alright in general play at West Brom but is completely ineffective in front of goal, something you cannot say about Mitro as long as he is given the chance.
Jonjo Shelvey For Mikel Merino
Merino is excellent and once again made his presence felt at West Brom. However, Rafa definitely sees the bigger picture with him and he will not wish to burn out his impressive Spanish under-21 international.
Jonjo Shelvey offers a slightly deeper option for this impending defensive display, can pass accurately and may even be asked to lead the side once again; so he is bound to play from the start this time. Merino will definitely play some part in the game, but it may be that Rafa partners Shelvey with Isaac Hayden from the start.
Mo Diame For Ayoze Perez
There is little doubt that Perez is a better player than Diame, who really isn’t overly popular with Newcastle fans, though the big man is more of a midfielder than the Spaniard and will do more defensively than the Canary Islander.
Should Shelvey and Hayden indeed partner each other, they will both sit deep, meaning there would be a big gap between them and the no.10 should Perez play. Diame will track back more and have more of a physical presence, which would bring more balance to the line-up.