Date: 17th January 2017 at 5:47pm
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Newcastle may be one of those teams who prioritise the league over the club given the chance they have of getting to the Premier League is quite high considering their expenditure this season as well as good league performances. In the original fixture, their main man Gayle was on the bench as they wanted to rest the big names in order to try and let squad rotation limit injuries. This time around, I think they may put in a few more regulars as they will want to win and it’s an all or nothing fixture.

I still think that Newcastle will have fire power, whether they have Gayle playing or not. Presumably not as he picked up a niggle/ It’s been tough to decide which player to have as the one to watch this week, with Diame being away at the AFCON (thank you to Alex Thomas for pointing this out) and with the first team regulars being rested. So the starting 11 is very unpredictable. Hayden, Anita and Aleksandar Mitrović are also all injured. So to choose a player that is going to stand out has been hard.

The one to watch that I have decided to go for is actually Jonjo Shelvey. He has just come back from a lengthy ban for abuse and due to his appeal, he must think that this wasn’t fair and it was unjust. Because of this, I think that he will be very fired up and will be looking to put that behind him in order to play really well for the team. He is allowed to be in the squad but whether Rafa will pick him remains to be seen. However, it has been noticeable that they have missed him. They haven’t had that cutting edge since he has been missing. What Shelvey gives you is that ability to spray balls out left, right and centre in order to quickly penetrate the opposition. Newcastle look to be on the back foot at times and then he produces a wonderful cross field ball to get them on the move again.

All of the intensity comes from him and all of the drive and passion is started by his vocals and the way he plays. He also takes one for the team quite frequently as in he isn’t afraid to stick a boot in if a player is looking to get beyond him. It’s annoying for the opposition but every team wants a player like that and Newcastle have got him. Without the likes of Diame and Hayden, they will need a big performance from Shelvey and he thrives under those conditions. You can see that he is pumped in games like this and it only means that he will work harder and be better.

Overall we need to press Shelvey and keep him pinned back. If he is able to do short passes then that is better for us especially considering Zola wants to rest Morrison and Spector has is mind on speculation of a move to the MLS. So we need to keep the midfielder as quiet as we possibly can.

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