Mo Diame has been the unsung hero in Newcastle’s midfield this season, but stats suggest his recent performances have dipped in quality.

Although often criticised for his passing and possession play, Mo Diame has been a fantastic ball-winner for Newcastle this year.

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While a section of fans called for him to be benched, Diame quietly did the team’s dirty work, winning possession consistently in every match.

His presence was always felt and Rafa Benitez has shown complete trust in the midfielder, starting him for every Premier League game.

But the Senegalese engine has looked somewhat anonymous in recent matches and his form is once again starting to be questioned.

What do Diame’s stats say?

Diame is still one of the best players in the league for tackling with 49 tackles.

It’s a total which sees him joint-fifth out of every player in the league, proving how phenomenal the midfielder has been.

However it was only a few weeks ago that Diame had the third highest total. So why hasn’t he kept up with the pack? Has his rate dropped or have other players simply got better?

Unfortunately for Newcastle, stats suggest it’s the former.

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After 10 matches this season, he had managed 36 tackles, averaging nearly four a game (3.6), a better rate than most midfielders.

However, in his last six matches, Diame has only managed 13 tackles, a rate of just over two a game.

It might not seem like a lot, but when winning back possession is your main role for the team, it definitely matters.

It’s certainly not a huge drop in form for the Senegalese international, but it’s been enough for it to be noticeable.

Benitez must rotate over Christmas

The most common explanation for Diame’s dip in form is likely to be game time. Only Dubravka has played more minutes for Newcastle this season, and the midfielder is in need of rest.

December is a tough month in the Premier League and the Toon still have four games left to play.

But Newcastle have proved they have depth in midfield and defence this season.

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To avoid further injuries to his squad, Benitez must trust his fringe players to perform during the busy period.

Jonjo Shelvey in particular is one player who could be great in Diame’s role. The Englishman has improved defensively this season, and has made 20 tackles in 9 games.

It’s a similar rate to Diame’s current form, which is not bad at all for a deep-lying playmaker like Shelvey.

But Benitez is always stubborn with his squad, and it took injuries for the manager to discover the merits of Fabian Schar and Ki Sung-yeung.

Hopefully it wont take the same thing for Benitez to realise his squad can function without Diame.

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