RAFAEL BENITEZ has warned his players to expect changes from his team selections because he does not think being predictable is good for getting the best out of Newcastle United.

The 57-year-old returns to Stamford Bridge this afternoon where he led Chelsea for six months after being handed a contract in November 2012, and he has also had stints at clubs such as Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Napoli and Real Madrid.

At West Brom he used his experienced to address a four-match losing run by introducing Karl Darlow, Chancel Mbemba, Mikel Merino and Ayoze Perez back into his starting line-up, with Rob Elliot and Javier Manquillo among those dropped.

Newcastle ended up claiming a point by battling back from two goals down to earn a point at The Hawthorns, and he hopes such a fightback can inspire his players to deliver a surprise at Chelsea.

Benitez said: “It was not a shock to the players to see my change things. I like to rotate if I can. I did it at Valencia and would make seven changes from one game to another.

“It depends on the level of the players, sometimes it is because you have to do it. Some fans have said ‘why don’t you play this player?’ I would say ‘no because he was not fit’. You can’t explain things like this all the time, like in this case Merino, he couldn’t play the full game, you have to manage things like this with your fitness coach.

“But to have ended a run of four matches without winning could be worse, that is the Premier League because of the level of the teams. You have to be careful in every game.

“To draw the one at West Brom in the way we did meant a lot for us and hopefully we will show the positives after this, and it gives confidence to every player, whoever is playing.”

Newcastle still don’t have Christian Atsu or Jamaal Lascelles available, although they are expected to be available to face Leicester on December 9. Benitez, though, is confident the team will improve at the back, having not kept a clean sheet in five and conceded nine in the last three matches.

Benitez, who wouldn’t confirm whether Darlow would keep his place ahead of Elliot in goal, said: “My feeling is that the team will improve defensively, it needs time. You could see the team in the beginning, defending as a unit, it was not easy to create chances against us.

“Then we got injuries, when you change things you expect it could be easier but it’s not like this and the only way is to work harder.

“We were not winning games and I wanted to change something so everyone was on their toes, to understand what we need to stay in the Premier League. I was pleased with the team spirit of everyone playing and not only the 11 but all of the players involved the other day.”