With the Premier League season just 2 weeks away, I decided to look at my predicted starting team.
Goalkeeper: Rob Elliot
In the goalkeeper spot, I think Elliot will start. In the 15/16 season, he was one of the standout players in a dismal season before his injury. Towards the end of last season, he was brought in for the last 3 games and did a solid job. But recently, it appears that Darlow is out of his plans and it looks like Darlow may be sold soon. Elliot is the best keeper at the club, in my opinion, and will be number 1 for the upcoming season.
Right back: DeAndre Yedlin
At right back there are 3 choices DeAndre Yedlin, Jesus Gamez, and Javier Manquillo. Gamez is fairly solid, however he lacks any real pace which can blight counter attacks. On the other hand, Manquillo has some decent pace but he was quite error prone. Then we have DeAndre Yedlin who is very quick and solid at the back. This means he perfect for counter attacking and tracking back after attacks/set pieces.
Centre back: Jamaal Lascelles
At the end of 15/16, he was very solid and due to his maturity and leadership skills he was awarded the captains armband. But last season he picked up an injury which greatly hindered his performances and wasn’t revealed until the end of the season. Mbemba is probably the better player however because Lascelles is captain I think he’ll always be a starter.
Centre back: Florian Lejeune
The French centre back was purchased from Eibar this season and has already impressed in friendly matches. Lejeune looks comfortable on the ball and can play accurate long balls. The only rival for his position would be Ciaran Clark who was very error prone last time he was in the Premier League.
Left back: Paul Dummett
At left back there are two viable options. They are Paul Dummett and Achraf Lazaar. Dummett is a long time servant at the club, working his way up from the under 10s and Lazaar was signed last summer. Lazaar was given very few chances last season for an unknown reason. But when he played against Hull in the cup he put in a good shift. Dummett can be solid for the majority of the match but end up making a mistake which can lead to a goal. From when he’s played, I think Lazaar is better but Rafa seems to rate Dummett higher so I think Dummett will be the starting left back.
Right wing: Matt Ritchie
Ritchie was a standout player last season and was crucial in gaining promotion. He is a great set piece taker, has a lethal left boot and is great at tracking back. Again I think he’ll be crucial in survival. Because he’s a hard worker and tracks back, he can aid the defense well. As well as that there isn’t really any natural right wingers in the squad.
Centre midfield: Jonjo Shelvey
Last season, Shelvey was our best player and the best player in the league. He’s the creator that pulls the strings from midfield. Almost every single attack stems from one of Shelvey’s passes. I personally think he should be called up for England. He is a fantastic passer of the baller and deserves to be on the team sheet every week.
Centre midfield: Mikel Merino
Partnering Shelvey, I think new boy Merino will play. The Spaniard recently joined on loan with an obligation to buy. From what I’ve seen, he’s a good passer who can do all the defensive work. Sort of a mix between Hayden and Shelvey. He comes with a lot of potential and a good bit of ability for someone so young.
Attacking midfield: Ayoze Perez
in the AM spot there are 3 choices; Siem De Jong, Ayoze Perez, and Mo Diame. De Jong has been given one last chance at the club however, I think it’ll be another season of injuries for the Dutchman. That leaves us with Diame and Perez. Diame is a frustrating player because he has ability, he’s just very lazy with his movement. This can make him ineffective against good defenders. Then we have Ayoze Perez who is the most technically gifted of the 3. He is a lightweight but that isn’t as big of a problem in the Premiership and he can be quite inconsistent. All in all, however, I do think he is the best AM at the club.
Left wing: Christian Atsu
The penultimate position is left wing and here I’ve gone for Atsu. He has the pace to cause constant issues for the defence and he showed that last season. But there is a problem with his final ball. He needs to be scoring and assisting more. That’s just like Jacob Murphy, the other left winger at the club but I think Atsu is currently better.
Striker: Dwight Gayle
Finally, we have Dwight Gayle. I went for him because last season he showed how good of a finisher he is. Compare that to Mitrovic, who I do like don’t get me wrong, who can be wasteful with his chances. I’m still 50/50 on whether he’ll play well in the Premier League but I do think he is the best striker in the squad.
Feature image credit: Steenbergs