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First starting XI after the window

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Aye I think we'll see a lot of changing of the team.  I would think that Gayle, Ritchie, Mitro, Lascelles, Hayden, Mbemba, and Sels will play the majority of games with Shelvey, and Diame not being far behind.  The likes of Gamez, Anita, Lazaar, Dummett, Colback, Perez, Atsu, Hanley, Yedelin and Clark will all get plenty of games but I don't think any of them will be a real first choice unless they come in and do better than expected.


I do also think he'll try and keep a few of the players in from last season for now until the new lads have time to settle in.  Rafa won't want to be playing a team of nearly all new faces at this stage.

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I like the fact that the team will change, I always find it annoying when a side remains unchanged because last start they got "a result". Plenty of the time there are weak performers that hold their spot without reason other than someone jagging a goal, or a keeper having a blinder.


This should also keep them keen and competing for places. It's nice to have what seems at this stage like a pretty well balanced squad.

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We've genuinely got a squad now. I can't remember the last time we had that. Agree we won't have a first XI, and I like that. Just running through the squad...


GK: Sels, Elliot, Darlow


FB: Gamez, Anita*, Yedlin, Lazaar, Dummett, Haidara


CB: Lascelles, Mbemba, Hayden, Clark, Dummett*


Wingers: Ritchie, Gouffran, Atsu, Aarons, Yedlin*, Diame*


CM: Hayden, Tiote, Shelvey, Colback, Anita, Diame


ST: Gayle, Mitrovic, Perez, Murphy


That's 3 or 4 players for every single position. All of whom you'd trust to do a job. Brilliant. I must say that Tiote staying is a bit of a boon for me, so long as he reacts like he did after January. Because other than Hayden we don't really have anyway to take on that holding midfielder role.

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