Newcastle face Huddersfield at the weekend in what will be a must-win clash for the Magpies as they look to avoid relegation – the Terries are surely resigned to their fate already – and Rafa Benitez’s side may have gotten themselves on the right track just in time.
Benitez’s experimentation with a 5-4-1 has seen the standard of performances from the St James’ Park outfit sky-rocket in recent weeks, with a shock win over Manchester City epitomising their improvement.
The January arrivals of Miguel Almiron and Antonio Barreca significantly boost the Magpies’ chances of securing Premier League football for another season and as Matt Ritchie said, they know that getting a point if they cannot get all three at this stage of the season is vital.
Every player will have to be on top form and step up in the coming months, but who has already taken huge strides this season? Who has fallen off? Read on to find out who is hot and who is not at Newcastle…
Isaac Hayden’s Newcastle career has been revived this season and the Englishman is excelling in Benitez’s new system. Playing alongside academy product Sean Longstaff at the base of midfield, Hayden has impressed even Pep Guardiola, who admitted his title-winning side could not deal with the pair.
Despite reports of a potential exit, the 23-year-old has not let his calibre of showing slip, instead going from strength to strength from week to week.
A bit-part player for the first half of the season, Hayden has done a complete heel turn and is now a fixture in the starting XI – he has played the full 90 minutes in six of his seven appearances since the new year. His performances put him on the radar of Aston Villa in January, but a deal never materialised – could they or other clubs come in for him in the summer if his desire to leave doesn’t lessen?
Kenedy’s impressive showings on loan from Chelsea last season earned him a second temporary stint at St James’ Park for the 18/19 season but, unfortunately, the Brazilian has cut a moody, disinterested figure this time round.
Wolves Fan TV give us their outsiders take on the turbulent situation behind the scenes at Newcastle in the video below…
The 23-year-old has chalked up just one goal and one assist in 20 appearances this season – the resurgence of Christian Atsu and the arrival of the aforementioned Almiron will make minutes hard to come by for Kenedy if he doesn’t pick his feet up soon.
With Hayden’s importance increasing as the season rolls on, Kennedy’s has decreased dramatically and he has played just 32 minutes of football since the start of the year. Based on this form, it’s highly unlikely he will be back on Tyneside for a third consecutive year.