The Magpies have already achieved safety and are five points off the top ten with two games left to play and this means that Eddie Howe’s men have little in the way of motivation when it comes to the league table.
However, the players will still be fighting for their places heading into the summer and will be desperate to prove that they deserve to be a part of the club moving forward.
One gem who must be unleashed from the start with a view to next season is Kieran Trippier. The England international returned from injury to come off the bench against Manchester City last time out and Emil Krafth must be brutally axed to bring him back into the starting XI.
In the 5-0 loss to Pep Guardiola’s side, Krafth recorded a dismal SofaScore rating of 6.3 as he failed to win a single aerial battle – losing Rodri from a corner for the third goal. Over the course of the campaign, he has lost 57% of his duels in the air as he has proven himself to be a lightweight at the back and Howe must now axe him from the team tonight.
This will then open the door for Trippier to be unleashed at right-back. The defender enjoyed a sensational start to his career on Tyneside, as he scored twice in his first four games, and he will now be hoping to end the campaign on a high by playing against the Gunners and then Burnley on the final day.
England boss Gareth Southgate previously dubbed him a “warrior” and his statistics for the Toon back that up as he has been a fierce competitor at the back.
He has made 4.8 tackles and interceptions per game and won a whopping 77% of his aerial battles in the Premier League across his five appearances, showing his ability to win the ball back for his side on a consistent basis and compete in individual duels.
The £77k-per-week gem has averaged a SofaScore rating of 7.42 for the Magpies and Bruno Guimaraes (7.16) is the only other player with a score of 7.00 or higher. Trippier is one of the club’s best players and that is why he must start this game to get some minutes in the tank and build some positive momentum heading into next season.