A lot of eyebrows were raised when Jonjo Shelvey was named in the Newcastle starting lineup against Manchester City.
The midfielder was poor in the previous game at Aston Villa, and looked like the kind of player Pep Guardiola’s side would relish playing against. He’s not the most mobile and is far from well known for his work off the ball. Against a Manchester City side who try to pass you to death, it looked like a recipe for disaster.
But by 2.30pm on Saturday, Shelvey was the toast of the Toon. His stunning equaliser rescued the Magpies a well-deserved point, and it capped off a fantastic performance from the stand-in skipper.
Even if he hadn’t scored that equaliser, Shelvey would’ve been praised for his performance. Alongside Isaac Hayden he was industrious. We saw interceptions and tackles, shifting across the pitch from left to right and back again, as City were unable to break through the wall of black and white.
It was a captain’s performance from a player who most fans didn’t think should play.
Before kick off, Sean Longstaff looked a better fit. The academy graduate has a massive engine in comparison to Shelvey, which seemed like a more desirable trait than a top class passing range.
But we got to see both sides of Shelvey’s game, setting Newcastle on the counter multiple times with his quick thinking and forward passes.
The former Liverpool man is winning fans over once again, having received a lot of criticism. When he’s in this kind of form, there’s no way Jonjo Shelvey shouldn’t be in the Newcastle starting XI. The big issue is consistency – can he perform at the same level on Thursday night against Sheffield United?