Jonjo Shelvey will not be fit to face Manchester City tomorrow, and it leaves Rafa Benitez with a selection headache. The manager will likely play 5-4-1 as he did against Chelsea last week, but the lack of creativity in the middle of the park was a major concern.
With just 19% possession, it was difficult to release the pressure that was building up on our defence, and that is likely to be amplified further at the Etihad Stadium.
One solution could be to switch to 4-5-1 and add an additional player in the midfield area so we are not outnumbered by our opponents. After his solid debut against Nottingham Forest earlier this week, I polled fans over whether Sean Longstaff should make his Premier League debut in central midfield tomorrow:
Personally, I think it is a risk worth taking. Playing the 20-year-old alongside Ki and Mo Diame is something that should be considered. If we start with just four in midfield, it will likely see City camped near our own box.
While a four-man backline would likely make us more vulnerable defensively, we need to win the battle higher up the field if we are going to get anything from this encounter.