It’s been a tough start to the season for Newcastle United. The Magpies lost their first three games in all competitions. And Rafa Benitez is understandably angry about the club’s lack of transfer business.
There were some signs of improvement before the international break at least. They beat a very poor West Ham United 3-0 at home.
Their next game is against Swansea City on Sunday afternoon.
Both sides are aiming to avoid the drop this season. A win over another relegation contender would give them the chance to build some momentum.
Benitez has a big selection decision to make in midfield. Jonjo Shelvey is back in contention after serving his three-game suspension.
Shelvey is one of the most talented players in the Newcastle squad. The 25-year-old can spray the ball around the pitch effortlessly. He’s a threat from long range too.
However, the duo of Mikel Merino and Isaac Hayden looked promising against West Ham. Merino’s technical ability and Hayden’s tenacity complemented each other well.
It’s worth taking another look at how they perform together.
Shelvey should have to earn his place in the side back as well, especially after the way he was sent off against Tottenham.
He was the Newcastle captain on the opening day but mindlessly stamped on Dele Alli. There was no arguing about the red card and he left his teammates in the lurch.
The former Liverpool midfielder has had problems with his temper and it could flare up again on Sunday.
Shelvey spent three years at Swansea before his move to Tyneside. The home crowd may look to provoke a reaction from him.
He can still come on to make an impact from the bench. Merino and Hayden deserve the chance to start the game in central midfield though.
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