Speculation over Rafa Benitez’s future returned to the headlines in the North East this week alongside news that Mike Ashley had pulled the plug on Amanda Staveley’s attempted takeover of Newcastle United.

And Geordie prospects don’t look like picking up any time soon, with a trip to champions-elect Manchester City in the offing this weekend.

While an unlikely victory would go some way to improving the mood on Tyneside, it would still only provide brief respite to the general depression surrounding Ashley’s reign.

Football Whispers uses data to predict teams’ starting XIs, taking into account injuries, suspensions, the statistical likelihood of a player being selected, the competition the match is in, players’ previous performances and the opponent’s style.

And you can also give it a go yourself. Just click ‘create your own’ on the line-up at the top of the page and pick your ideal XI for the game.You can also see each player’s stats once you’ve selected them.

When you’re happy with your team, press ‘confirm’ and you’ll be able to share it with your friends via social media.

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