Brace-bagger Kenedy inevitably stole the headlines as his early goals sealed Newcastle a huge 3-0 win over relegation rivals Southampton on Saturday, but the creative influence of Jonjo Shelvey was the true driving force behind a three points that have vastly enhanced the Tyneside outfit’s chances of Premier League survival, now sitting five points clear of the drop zone in 13th place.
Indeed, while Newcastle’s sudden potency in attack, scoring three goals in a Premier League game for only the third time this season, was the clearest difference between the two sides, the 3pm kickoff at St. James’ Park was truly settled in midfield. Whereas Mario Lemina and Dusan Tadic were tellingly hauled off at half time after an abject 45 minutes, Shelvey and Mohamed Diame constantly asserted their authority over the Southampton engine room, holding shape well before making efficient use of the possession that came their way.
The England international – who Transfermarkt value at £9million – provided the assist for Kenedy’s opening goal with a perfectly weighted ball into the Brazilian winger’s path, and added to his setup haul late on by picking out Matt Ritchie on the edge of the box – although the Scottish midfielder did the real hard work by squeezing a curling shot beyond the reach of Alex McCarthy.
And those two assists were just rewards for Shelvey’s overall performance, one that saw him create the most chances and complete the most dribbles of any Newcastle player while ranking second for tackles. Even more tellingly of how pivotal he was to Saturday’s result, he ranked first for passes and touches of the ball as well.
Rightly or wrongly though, Shelvey hasn’t always been in the Magpies’ starting XI this season. So, Newcastle fans, do you rate the former Liverpool man as your club’s most important midfielder? Let us know by voting below…