Date: 10th September 2017 at 1:40pm
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We know Rafa Benitez wont make today’s game at Swansea although he wanted to be there but we can try our best to guess the team.

We know the formation that the team will take as Rafa has all of his staff well drilled in how to train it but any element of surprise in the tactics will surely not happen for a game that the manager has to sit out.

Injuries and suspensions take some out of the equation with Paul Dummett out long term, Chancel Mbemba a fresh injury doubt and Aleksandar Mitrovic replacing the incoming Jonjo Shelvey into the suspension zone. This game being the first of three that he will miss.

In Shelvey’s three game absence, we have seen Mikel Merino impress greatly with him showing he has potential to be a real star of the future.

A completely different player to Shelvey in that he has a greater range of pass but he likes to move and see a ball to play. Maybe they can play together but today’s game should really be one where Shelvey has to learn a lesson that he cant walk back in the side so we’ll see.

The left back position is probably the hardest decision to make although there are a few options which may be determined on whether Florian Lejeune is completely fit to return to the side or Denadre Yedlin being fit enough to take back his right back slot and allow Manquillo to swop over.

There may also be a surprise on the bench with the seemingly banished Jack Colback maybe making an appearance to cover for the left back spot.

For varying reasons, our strongest eleven available wont be the one that starts the game I feel and Im going to predict this starting side.

Elliot

Manquillo, Lascelles, Lejeune, Clark

Hayden, Merino

Ritchie, Perez, Atsu

Joselu

Obviously I’ll be totally wrong as guessing a Rafa side is generally like trying to guess the lottery numbers in advance.