Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United will be looking to seal their fourth straight win in the Premier League as they face Norwich at Carrow Road today.
They come up against a Norwich team sitting bottom of the table and 19 points behind the Toon army as it stands and Howe’s men have a terrific chance to move further clear of 18th-placed Burnley.
The head coach may decide to make a few changes to his side to keep things fresh after the match against Palace in midweek and one player who must be brutally axed from the XI is central midfielder Joelinton.
His revival under Howe has been spectacular and he deserves immense credit for the way he has turned his career at St. James’ Park around. He has gone from being a goal-shy striker who was not justifying his £40m price tag to being a combative, energetic, ball-winning, midfield player.
However, he has not been himself in recent weeks after returning from illness. He was out with an ailment in the early parts of March and has averaged a dismal SofaScore rating of 6.42 in the five games he has played since coming back into the side against Everton.
This comes after he averaged SofaScore ratings of 7.3 and 7.1 in January and February respectively and shows that his form has fallen off a cliff since his fitness issues. He was previously accused of “looking lost” on the pitch by Dion Dublin and his statistics suggest that he is in that position again as he has been struggling badly.
Danny Murphy once dubbed his lapse play in possession as “unacceptable” and those concerns have cropped up again in recent matches. In his last five games, he has lost the ball 48 times and lost 44 of his 68 duels as he failed to demonstrate his quality in the middle of the park.
Therefore, the £80k-per-week passenger must finally be axed from the team after five below-par outings. His performances suggest that he is not 100% after his illness last month and Howe must now give him the time he needs to get back to his best so that he can then return to the team and put in the lung-busting, combative, displays that the fans love to see from him.