Newcastle were wretched against Arsenal, but still Jonjo Shelvey couldn’t get on the pitch.
The midfielder started on the bench, with Isaac Hayden and Mo Diame chosen to start. That wasn’t a surprise, but the fact that Shelvey didn’t get on at all certainly was.
Rafa Benitez did make a change to his midfield, replacing Hayden with Ki Sung Yueng. While the South Korean can keep possession, he can’t unlock a defence like Shelvey can.
The Magpies were shocking in possession last night, struggling to string more than a couple of passes together. The Arsenal defence proved that they were shaky, but at no point did we put them under enough pressure to capitalise. Our attack was toothless.
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Shelvey is needed against Crystal Palace
Since Sean Longstaff’s injury, the Newcastle midfield has been much less influential. No one has stepped up and cemented their place in Benitez’s starting XI, with Hayden the only consistent figure.
Diame has been hit and miss, while Ki hasn’t looked as composed as he did before the Asian Cup.
One player that has impressed in bursts though is Shelvey. Against Everton he was key to the comeback, and he also played a role in the Magpies’ late equaliser at Bournemouth.
There is talk of him leaving Newcastle this summer, having arrived in 2016 from Swansea for £12million.
But the Arsenal defeat showed that we still need the 27-year-old, and he should return to the starting lineup on Saturday.
If Shelvey doesn’t get any minutes against Palace, then the writing really is on the wall for him.