Premier League safety? Check! What a turnaround from Rafa Benitez’s men towards the end of this season. Now sitting 15th, seven points above safety, you have to feel that Newcastle’s newest target is to keep hold of their main man.
Giving the entire club hope for a bright future, it seems that the Spanish manager has provided yet another year of Premier League football for the Magpies. Looking for their third consecutive win against a rejuvenated Southampton side later today, it is imperative that the 59-year-old gets his side right.
Those who think the game means nothing are very wrong. We saw the power of St. James’ Park in keeping Benitez at the helm back in 2016 and following that pattern is probably the most fans can do right now.
Here, we take a look at a couple of changes he should look to make.
Drop Javier Manquillo
Starting in what was a resilient back five last time out against Leicester, Manquillo seemed to be the one player a level below his teammates.
He’s a worker, granted, but so am I and you don’t see me donning the famous black and white strip.
Due to a possible lack of match fitness, having spent the previous four games on the bench, Rafa cannot take any chances in what is an important game against the Saints and must use players that can handle an on fire Nathan Redmond.
Unfortunately for Manquillo, the threat of Redmond may just be too high for him to retain his place.
Start DeAndre Yedlin
Yedlin is valued at £7.2 million (by Transfermarkt).
Having featured in pretty much every game for the Magpies this season, there will no surprise to see the 25-year-old full back slot back into the starting line up.
With his strongest attributes being his pace and strength down the wing, offensively and defensively, Yedlin seems to be the perfect match for Redmond down the wing. He will certainly have to have his wits about him for the entire 90 minutes.
A win later today could see Newcastle rise to as high as 13th in the league, it really has been a huge turnaround from fighting for survival a couple of months ago.
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