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Newcastle: Eddie Howe must unleash Jonjo Shelvey

Newcastle United will be looking to keep their place in the top four of the Premier League as they host Aston Villa at St. James’ Park this afternoon.

The Magpies have won four of their last five matches in the division and are currently sitting in the final Champions League place, although they have played one game more than both Chelsea and Manchester United.

Eddie Howe’s men beat Tottenham 2-1 away from home last time out. Callum Wilson opened the scoring from distance as he made the most of Hugo Lloris coming outside of his box and losing the ball before Miguel Almiron brilliantly worked his way into the box and rolled the ball into the back of the net.

The head coach may look to make a few changes to his starting XI to keep the side fresh for this clash with Villa on Tyneside and one alteration he should make is Jonjo Shelvey coming in for Sean Longstaff.

Howe selected Longstaff alongside Joe Willock and Bruno Guimaraes in the middle of the park against Spurs and the trio put the hard work in off the ball, but the Toon academy graduate struggled with the pace of the game at times.

Should Jonjo Shelvey start?

Yes

Yes

No

No

As per SofaScore, he lost nine of his 12 individual duels and was dribbled past twice, whilst failing to complete a single tackle and making one interception. He also completed just one long pass in the game as he was unable to showcase a variety in his range of passing.

This comes after he lost six of his eight battles and failed to complete a single long pass in the 1-0 win over Everton, which suggests that he has been a lightweight in recent matches.

The £50k-per-week midfielder has averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.71 across 12 appearances in the top-flight this season and lost 63% of his duels, whilst making 1.5 tackles and interceptions per game.

Shelvey, who was once dubbed a “Rolls Royce” by Isaac Hayden, would be an upgrade on his compatriot if he is able to replicate his performance levels from last season.

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Newcastle United striker Callum Wilson celebrates with Joelinton

How many 2021/22 Premier League goals did Newcastle score?

In the 2022/23 campaign, the former Liverpool maestro averaged a SofaScore rating of 6.93 as he completed 4.9 long passes and 2.2 tackles and interceptions per game, whilst also winning 51% of his individual battles.

These statistics suggest that he has the quality and physicality to offer more than Longstaff against Villa. He has a more varied range of passing, which allows him to hit longer passes to set off counter-attacks, and holds himself in 50/50 challenges more often than the youngster.

Therefore, Howe must finally unleash Shelvey for his first start of the season if he is fit enough to be named in the XI and Longstaff should be given a rest this afternoon.

Article title: Newcastle: Eddie Howe must unleash Jonjo Shelvey

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